Pilot Flying J, Kroger Help Launch Groundbreaking Retail Program

NEW YORK — Convenience retailers are joining with the National Retail Federation (NRF) and other merchants on a new training initiative designed to help people pursue opportunities in retail.

The NRF Foundation brought together dozens of retailers and nonprofits to launch RISE Up (Retail Industry Skills & Education), which is designed by the industry to assist people — regardless of education, background, economic means or age — to acquire the skills they need to secure jobs in retail and advance into promising careers. 

According to NRF, RISE Up efforts include in-store to digital and mobile commerce to build competencies and pathways for the workforce of the future. 

To date, 21 companies have come together to pledge their support for building the next generation of the retail workforce, including Pilot Flying J and The Kroger Co., the Cincinnati-based parent company of several c-store banners like Loaf N' Jug, Kwik Shop, Turkey Hill Minit Markets and Tom Thumb Food Stores.

"Pilot Flying J stands with the NRF Foundation and partner retailers in their commitment to building the next generation of the retail workforce through the RISE Up program. With more than 27,000 team members across North America, we understand the importance of developing skilled retail workers. They are the front line in serving our guests and customers, and they are our greatest asset," said Mark Rowan, chief people officer of Knoxville, Tenn.-based Pilot Flying J.

"The retail industry provides job stability and consistency, fair pay and benefits, long-term career opportunities and satisfying, rewarding work. RISE Up will help develop skilled workers and connect them with promising careers in retail," he added.

They join other retailers including BJ's Wholesale Club, The Home Depot, Lowe's Cos. Inc., and Macy's.

"Good jobs change lives, and retail doesn't just provide first jobs, but opportunities for lifelong careers," NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. "RISE Up helps the people who need it the most, and helps retailers address recurring talent challenges — including reducing the time needed to hire and train new associates and decreasing turnover."

RISE Up begins with Retail Industry Fundamentals, a 15-module formal training program for entry-level retail associates in distribution centers, call centers or stores. It will give people a wide array of knowledge in areas like retail tools and technologies, customer service, retail math, inventory and interview skills. The training can be delivered in the classroom or online to people of all backgrounds, ages and education levels. 

RISE Up is available through nonprofit and public education partners, and can also be used directly by retail companies to train and advance existing employees, according to NRF.

"Digitization isn't just changing the retail industry, it is changing society. And at a time when we have six different generations in the workplace, equipping all associates with the next-generation skills they need to continue growing both personally and professionally has never been more important," said Tim Massa, group vice president of human resources and labor relations of The Kroger Co. "Kroger is proud to support the NRF Foundation's RISE Up initiative."

Over the past 18 months, the NRF Foundation has worked with dozens of retailers, nonprofit partners and foundations to build Retail Industry Fundamentals, which ensures that the skills and training it provides meet industry needs, and that the materials created are user-friendly for nonprofit and education partners. 

Initial funding for the development of RISE Up was made possible by a capacity-building grant from the Walmart Foundation.

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds