Employment and Jobs

Harnessing Digital Technology for Frontline Worker Mobility: Eat’n Park’s Partnered Approach

August 19, 2019  • Amy Blair, Vivian Vázquez & Jenny Weissbourd

Download Publication
View this Publication
Download PDF

Online upskilling programs have the potential to support continuous, lifelong learning that can help adults learn new skills and advance in a changing labor market. Yet the online learning landscape can be difficult to navigate. Many workers face challenges balancing digital courses with work and personal commitments, accessing and using technology, and determining which of the many available programs signal value to employers.

Companies can play an important role in making online upskilling accessible and relevant to frontline workers. Our latest report documents one partnered approach to designing and piloting an online training program for incumbent workers, led by a food service company, a civic leadership organization, and a local university in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It explores how Eat’n Park partnered with Robert Morris University and the Allegheny Conference on Community Development to design and deliver digital training to frontline Eat’n Park employees.

Our profile shares findings from a pilot customer service training program, focusing on the experiences of workers who participated and their managers. It includes information on program content and design, and the business case for launching training. It also offers four key practices that workers noted were important to their motivation and ability to complete the program:

  1. Recognition: Participants felt honored to be selected for the program by their company.
  2. Credibility: Participants were excited that the online program was delivered by a university, endorsed by their employer, and included a formal certificate.
  3. Accessibility: The free, online delivery of the program made it easy to fit into busy schedules.
  4. Connection: The success of the online learning component of the program was supported by the relationships built between students before and during the course, which provided an effective support network.

These experiences may be helpful to education and workforce partners seeking to develop digital customer service trainings to improve worker mobility.

This new report is the third in a series on promising workforce strategies from across the Reimagine Retail network. We’re excited to share valuable learning from work on the ground by local Reimagine Retail partners across the country.

Reimagine Retail, an initiative of the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program, explores ways to enhance job quality and improve mobility for the retail workforce. In Pittsburgh, we partner with the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, a civic leadership organization that brings together public and private sector leaders to improve the economy and quality of life in the 10-county Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, region.

Reimagine Retail and the research included in this report are made possible through funding by the Walmart Foundation. The findings, conclusions, and recommendations presented in this report are those of the Economic Opportunities Program alone, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Walmart Foundation.



How can online training improve worker mobility? A new profile by @AspenWorkforce reviews the successful partnership between @EatnPark, @AlleghenyConf, and @RMU.

#Upskilling can help people advance in a changing economy, but the learning landscape can be tough to navigate. Companies can play an important role in making opportunity accessible to workers.

Businesses like @EatnPark show what it takes to #ReimagineRetail. Its partnership with @AlleghenyConf and @RMU offers an example of innovative digital training. Read more in a new profile by @AspenWorkforce.


Employment and Jobs
A Retailer Bets on Learning and Development: Goodwill Industries® of San Diego County
February 4, 2019 • Jeannine La Prad, & 2 more


Keep in touch

Reimagine Retail is a project of the Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program. Learn how EOP is helping low- and moderate-income Americans connect to and thrive in a changing economy. Follow us on social media and join our mailing list to stay up-to-date on publications, blog posts, and other announcements.

* indicates required

Mailing Lists