As one of the largest nonprofit organizations in Dallas — whose mission centers on "providing competitive solutions for employers through quality people and for people through quality jobs" — Workforce Solutions Greater Dallas (WFSDallas) realized early on that they were uniquely positioned to make a major impact on job-seekers and employers in their region.
As the skills gap became an increasingly larger issue across the country, WFSDallas doubled down on their mission to help Dallas residents find gainful employment, advance their careers, and improve their lives. In doing so, they would also be able to help retail employers improve the quality of the talent they employ and combat the ever-growing skills gap.
As an innovator and leader in the workforce development space, WFSDallas formed the Retail Pay$ program – with funding provided by Walmart.org – to help entry-level workers navigate retail career pathways that lead to mid-level careers. To provide a technology-driven solution that enables learners to study online, WFSDallas partnered with Penn Foster to offer a suite of fundamental and retail-specific credentialing and career diploma programs, including the NRF Foundation’s Retail Industry Fundamentals credential, a Retail Supervisor Career Diploma, Penn Foster’s nationally-accredited high school diploma program, and more.
By offering these programs, WFSDallas has been able to open the door to many new opportunities for Dallas residents and give retail employers a brand new pool of qualified talent to recruit from. What’s more, 88% of program graduates have reported that the skills and competencies they learned have given them more confidence in their ability to find a job in the retail industry, according to a survey conducted by Penn Foster.
“The key to everything we do is employment,” said Lynn Hoffman, Senior Innovation Strategist at WFSDallas. “So our ultimate goal and outcome is for someone to either gain employment or get a better job, or to gain more skills so they can move up in their current position.”
By offering the retail skills program fully online and on Penn Foster’s mobile-friendly platform, they’re able to do just that. Students can access the course from the comfort of their own home, on the go, or anywhere else they have access to the internet. For many of the learners that enroll in the program, that flexibility could spell the difference between being able to earn these skills or not.
“For many working adults in the Dallas area, pursuing educational opportunities means a painful trade-off as they balance work, family, and other commitments in addition to their studies,” said Laurie Larrea, President of WFSDallas. “This partnership is about tapping the potential of technology to create a continuum of opportunities that will help workers advance in our region's increasingly dynamic economy.”
To date, WFSDallas has helped over 1,200 learners begin gaining new skills through Retail Pay$, with 472 of those learners having gone on to earn a certificate. WFSDallas continues to push forward toward reaching their first major goal: to help over 850 Dallas residents gain the skills necessary to confidently pursue new retail jobs, advance their careers, and improve their lives. Thanks to the work they're doing through Retail Pay$, WFSDallas continues to be a driving force in improving the economic mobility of the Greater Dallas community.