Philadelphia: Reimagining Supervisor Training to Advance Equity

“Prior to this grant, our engagement with retail in Philly was focused on using retailers to fill slots based on our program needs. The engagement was just, ‘I’m getting you a job.’ This grant has helped us think about retail with more of a pathway perspective. What does it mean to engage with this young person to define a career pathway in a company? That’s the biggest shift I’ve seen: a more intentional way to think about retail and what our workforce system is doing to engage business partners.”

— Farrah Farnese, Philadelphia Youth Network

Students in YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School’s class of 2019. Reimagine Retail partner YouthBuild Philly works closely with retailers to strengthen their management practices and job quality, improving young people’s retention and engagement.

Students in YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School’s class of 2019. Reimagine Retail partner YouthBuild Philly works closely with retailers to strengthen their management practices and job quality, improving young people’s retention and engagement.

In Philadelphia, five workforce organizations focused on connecting youth and young adults to employment shifted their relationship with the retail sector and trained retail employers to strengthen management practices. In a partnership managed by Philadelphia Youth Network, the Job Opportunity Investment Network, JEVS Human Services, YouthBuild Philadelphia, and District 1199C Training and Upgrading Fund have collaborated to increase the workforce system’s understanding of and engagement with retail, the source of many young people’s first jobs. In three years, partners have successfully raised retail’s profile in the region, including contributing to the development and implementation of the mayor’s citywide workforce strategy, which lifts up retail and hospitality as key areas of job growth.

To improve employment retention among young people and increase coordination across agencies, the partners engaged diverse stakeholders, including young people, to create a shared “job quality” definition for the region. Through focus groups, partners learned that young people need stability, but respect and autonomy in the workplace is what keeps them in their jobs. In response, the collaborative has worked closely with employers to promote workforce practices that help young people feel recognized and to succeed and advance. Partners created and delivered trainings designed to improve retention, including frontline supervisor training on supportive, trauma-informed management practices that reduce racial bias and help young people develop. A forthcoming fall 2019 Aspen EOP publication will share how two retail employers have strengthened their management practices in response to training and coaching from Reimagine Retail partners.

 

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Reimagine Retail explores ways to enhance job quality and improve mobility for the retail workforce. Reimagine Retail is a project of the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program. Learn how EOP is helping low- and moderate-income Americans and thrive in a changing economy. Join our mailing list and follow us on social media to learn about events, publications, blog posts, and more.