California Community Colleges (CCC) and leading retailers are working together to provide experiential learning opportunities in the retail sector to equip more students with the skills needed to navigate the 21st-century economy through its new RetailReadyCA initiative.
Retail is a high growth sector in California, as its jobs account for nearly 10% of all employment in the state, according to the State of California Employment Development Division. Between 2014-2024, retail salespersons and cashiers are expected to have the third and fourth most job openings respectively out of all occupational titles in California. These job openings come with high expectations from retailers about the skill sets needed to fill these positions.
The retail industry has shifted dramatically to digital with a stronger focus on e-commerce and social media. In fact, 64 cents out of every dollar spent in retail stores in 2015 were influenced by digital interactions, according to Deloitte.
This digital disruption has created talent struggles for many retailers, particularly for companies established before 1995 when the internet age started to take off. Many of these companies are still playing from behind and are 21% more likely to experience a talent shortage compared to retailers founded after 1995, finds Deloitte.
Yet the industry is changing its talent strategy, as Deloitte found “a clear trend where retailers are moving toward flatter, more nimble organizational structures to increase entrepreneurialism and innovation.”
It’s these market trends that sparked the creation of RetailReadyCA, a California Community College initiative to train students in developing 21st-century skills such as digital literacy, adaptability and communication coupled with experiential learning to establish the expectations in the new digital retail landscape.
The initial pilot will include students currently enrolled in the Retail Management Certificate (RMC) program of the Western Association of Food Chains at community colleges offering the program; the RMC is a 24 unit certificate program of business management courses that has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor. Eight community colleges will be paired with eight retailers in the roll out.