retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

CNBC has a story about how home improvement retailer Lowe’s has a new plan designed “to tackle a growing skills gap in its job pool as the tightening U.S. labor market makes finding experienced workers more difficult … Lowe's has forecast the U.S. will endure a skills gap of more than a half million construction-related jobs by 2026.”

The new workforce development program, the story says, “will offer employees financial assistance to pursue certification for a specific trade skill, such as carpentry, heating and air conditioning, electrical, plumbing and appliance repair. Eligible employees will receive up to $2,500 to complete their education via a partnership with Guild Education.”

The program begins rolling out this week in Charlotte, North Carolina; Denver; Pittsburgh and Richmond, Virginia, with the goal to roll it out “to qualified part- and full-time employees nationwide by the end of the year.”

I like this idea a lot, and think that more retailers ought to consider the possibility that they should be offering employees an advanced education in whatever category they happen to be in.

Can you imagine how it would change the culture of a supermarket, for example, if a company offered cooking lessons to employees? These front line workers might stop seeing products as packages and prices, and instead see the building blocks of meals and nutrition. They’d see customers not as the enemy, but as fellow travelers on the road to feeding their families in effective and efficient ways.

And it could lead to meaningful connections between shoppers and shopkeepers (to use an old fashioned word), which then could lead to higher sales and profits.

Could be an Eye-Opener.
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