5 ways to maximize retail skills training

How NRF Foundation partners are connecting people to life-changing careers
By Lottie Watts
Published Oct 19, 2021

From high schools to workforce development centers to retailers, more than 1,200 training partners are offering NRF Foundation RISE Up training in their communities.

“Our industry-backed credentials are a powerful signal to employers that the person is prepared to go to work,” NRF Foundation Vice President Adam Lukoskie says. “Our program provides flexibility for partners to customize the courses and empowers them to help people of all backgrounds and education levels.”  

Here’s how a few partners are maximizing RISE Up training to connect people to life-changing careers:

Earning Graduation Credit

Louisiana is among the states where RISE Up exams are approved by education departments for use toward graduation requirements, ensuring students earn both a diploma and are ready for careers with industry-recognized credentials.

“We live in a tourist area, and customer service training is vital for hospitality,” says Sherry Lowery, a career and technical education consultant for the Calcasieu Parish School Board based in Lake Charles, Louisiana. “Many places are looking for entry-level roles and having the NRF Foundation RISE Up certification on their resumes helps students stand out.”

Sharing Insights from Retail Professionals

Boys & Girls Clubs of America is offering courses at select locations nationwide, and like many partners, they’re incorporating guest speakers and taking trips (both virtual and in person) to retailers.

In August, Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida brought a group of students completing RISE Up training to tour the Macy’s store and corporate office at The Mall at Millenia in Orlando, giving them an inside look at retail.

“We love to work with kids and teach them about the different roles they could have on the floor or behind the scenes,” Macy’s Store Manager Kristen Twomey says.

The students were paired with Macy’s personal stylists to learn how to select appropriate career and interview apparel – preparation that will serve them no matter what career they pursue.   

Celebrating Achievement

Earning a credential is life-changing – for individuals, their families and communities. And it’s something that the Human Works Foundation in Southern California celebrates in a big way. 

Sharing alumni updates and highlighting the stories of how people build skills with RISE Up and then get hired and promoted inspires more people to get started on similar paths.

Planning for Life After the Diploma

Oakmont Education in Ohio manages more than 10 state-designated dropout recovery schools – and focuses on life after the diploma.

“We modify what we do to meet the needs of employers,” says Jerry Farley, vice president of career technical education for Oakmont. “We say to employers: Are we preparing these students for your entry-level roles?”

Making the connection that the fundamentals of retail, customer service and sales build a strong foundation – no matter their interest or ultimate goals – helps students who are budding entrepreneurs.

Putting Skills to Work

At the Mosholu Montefiore Community Center in the Bronx, people ages 16 to 24 in the “Advance and Earn” program obtain their high school equivalency and the RISE Up Customer Service and Sales credential – and they also leave with paid work experience.

“What I love about the RISE Up curriculum is you can expand on it,” Mosholu Montefiore Community Center Workforce Development and Continuing Education Director Liza Perez says. “Customer service is something that’s interchangeable and you can use it anywhere.”

After training with NRF Foundation courses, students are placed into internships with a variety of organizations, spending 20 weeks applying the skills they built, getting real-world experience and earning money.

Prepare people for jobs that are hiring now with our full suite of training credentials, available for delivery online, in the classroom or a combination of both. Perfect for individuals who are preparing for careers and for businesses to tailor to what they need their employees to know. And to meet the increasing demand for roles in warehouses and distribution/fulfillment centers, we’ve added a new course: RISE Up Warehouse, Inventory and Logistics. Learn more about our industry-backed credentials here.

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