SkillUp in the News: Westfield-Southcenter workers get career boost

Westfield-Southcenter workers get career development boost from prestigious National Fund grant

SkillUp Washington uses grant funds to launch new industry partnership with Port Jobs, expand economic opportunities for local retail workers.

SEATTLE, WA (October 10, 2017) – The National Fund announced this month a $300,000 grant, made possible through support from Walmart Giving, to SkillUp Washington, a workforce funder collaborative at the Seattle Foundation. The National Fund’s grant of $100,000 annually for three years will support SkillUp Washington’s work with employers, educators and community leaders to expand opportunities and career pathways in retail and adjacent sectors, with a goal of helping local retail employees advance into higher positions, making a positive impact on the regional retail economy.

Today, SkillUp Washington is launching the Center for Onboarding and Advancement in Retail (COAR). Dedicated to promoting the skills of frontline workers in the retail sector, particularly opportunity youth, immigrants and refugees, COAR will result in an industry partnership in and around Westfield- Southcenter Mall.

COAR’s work will be led by Port Jobs, a non-profit workforce development intermediary, in partnership with Educurious, the City of Seattle’s Office of Economic Development, the Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County, the King County Department of Community of Human Services and the Community Center for Education Results.

Port Jobs will conduct an initial regional scan of the retail industry during the first year of the project, and work with COAR partners to identify and develop services to both employers and workers including employment readiness, retention support and career advancement.

With more than 600,000 open positions and a current total employment of more than 48 million individuals, the retail and adjacent service sectors have a large footprint in our nation’s economy. In the Puget Sound region over 200,000 people work in the retail industry, and retail job postings constituted over 12% of total postings last year.

“The retail industry is a major employer in the United States, and it is critical that the millions of retail jobs provide real opportunity for the employees and value for employers,” said Fred Dedrick, President and CEO of the National Fund. “This project is a tremendous opportunity to help employers improve the quality of their jobs as well as their competitiveness by helping workers advance on a career pathway.  By partnering with communities, educators and retailers, we can make retail an even better industry to start or grow a career.”

“We’re inspired by the National Fund and its partners at the Walmart Foundation. Their leadership in promoting innovative approaches to labor market and economic growth, through this grant, will benefit not just Washington workers but a network of communities across the United States”, said Susan Crane, Executive Director of SkillUp Washington.
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About National Fund for Workforce Solutions
The National Fund for Workforce Solutions is a national network promoting economic opportunity and prosperous communities through investment and innovation. Based in Washington D.C., the National Fund partners with philanthropy, employers, workers, public and private community organizations, and more than 30 regional collaboratives to invest in skills, improve systems, and generate good jobs. The National Fund supports civic and business leaders in promoting evidence-based practices and policies that build shared prosperity. Learn more about the National Fund and its local partners at www.NationalFund.orgFor Immediate Release

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