$1.35M Invested in Local Job Creation
By Ana Gomez Salcido
The San Diego Workforce Partnership announced that funding awarded to the program Reimagine Retail San Diego reached a total of $1.35 million since 2016.
Through this effort, the organization worked with employers to improve job quality, create pathways to advancement for retail workers, and uncover opportunities to strengthen the region’s retail economy.
“From teenagers in underserved communities landing their first jobs to local breweries offering new training to help their employees get promoted, we’ve already seen meaningful return on these investments,” said San Diego Workforce Partnership CEO Peter Callstrom.
San Diego’s retail industry employs nearly 300,000 workers, making up almost 20 percent of all jobs in San Diego County. In addition to the sector’s impact on local jobs and quality of life, it plays a critical role in developing San Diego workers’ skills and introducing young people to the world of work.
The San Diego Workforce Partnership recently received a $235,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation through the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership, bringing the total amount awarded to Reimagine Retail San Diego to $1.35 million over the past two years. Gap Inc. awarded previous funding through its This Way Ahead program as well as directly from the Walmart Foundation and through the Walmart Foundation by way of the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership and the Aspen Institute. The cumulative funding enables the San Diego Workforce Partnership to continue exploring strategies to improve job quality and career advancement for San Diego County retail workers.
One notable success took place at the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in San Diego, a nonprofit that helps refugees and others whose lives have been shattered to rebuild their futures.
With support from the San Diego Workforce Partnership’s Reimagine Retail San Diego, the IRC connected seven refugees with transitional work at its Project CHOP, where they prepared locally sourced food products.
“Thanks to the core job skills they learned in this supportive environment, all seven refugees advanced to entry-level jobs in San Diego’s hospitality industry,” said Anchi Mei, International Rescue Committee San Diego senior program manager.
Other key outcomes of Reimagine Retail San Diego have included: more than 497 employees trained with new skills to prepare them for upward mobility; customized training provided for 17 employers, reimbursing them for up to 50 percent of worker training; social enterprise accelerator launched to support local enterprises committed to training and hiring underserved residents; and retail labor market analysis for San Diego’s retail industry.
Over the next year and a half, the San Diego Workforce Partnership expects to train nearly 80 young people in retail work fundamentals, engage more than 1,000 employers in retail, and develop systems to support workers in earning higher wages and advanced job titles.