How job-ready candidates give retailers a head start

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Karin Norington-Reaves’ experience with retail started when she was a teenager working as a cashier at a small market. Today, she’s the CEO of the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership, the nation’s largest workforce system managed by a nonprofit administrative agency, where her extraordinary leadership recently earned her a spot on NRF Foundation’s The List of People Shaping Retail’s Future.

On this episode of Retail Gets Real, Norington-Reaves discusses how The Partnership’s workforce development initiatives help job-seekers, retailers and the entire retail industry.


Learn more about how the RISE Up training and credentialing program helps entry-level job seekers develop meaningful retail careers.

Norington-Reaves is passionate about connecting retailers with qualified job candidates. “Employers have a need,” she says, “and we have a responsibility to provide a talent pool of people to meet that need.” She believes it’s critical for businesses across the nation to engage with local workforce boards, though only 13 percent currently do. Part of her mission is changing the perception around workforce systems to one of being the cornerstone of economic development, rather than an extension of social service.

Workforce boards can be especially helpful partners in the retail industry. The Partnership recently started a pilot of NRF’s RISE Up initiative, which included connecting more than 500 people with 50 employers during its first hiring event; 63 percent of those job-seekers have already found employment.

Listen to the episode to learn about how The Partnership is helping retailers find qualified talent. To learn more about RISE Up, visit the NRF Foundation.

Nadee Bandaranayake is an assistant producer on NRF’s Retail Gets Real podcast. Meet all the co-hosts and learn more about the show.