Helping frontline retail staff advance to the next level

109“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”. It’s one of the most common maxims of recent times. It has been attributed to many, including the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu. It’s been said that Goodwill Industries® Founder Edgar J. Helms used it to describe the importance of job training to advance the careers of people with disadvantages.

These words of wisdom also can be applied to today’s working world. The opportunity to teach relevant career skills for today’s new and ever-changing workforce is critical to meeting employees’ career, financial and personal goals. The ability to learn new and credentialed skills applies both to first-time worker and to experienced workers looking to advance their career.

Last week, thirteen retail frontline employees who work at Goodwill NYNJ’s stores in Northern New Jersey and New York City graduated from the first Career in Retail cohort. The program began on September 10. The goal is to train mid-level employees in the retail and hospitality sectors to help advance their career to the next level. Goodwill NYNJ received a grant from the Walmart Foundation to develop this course.

In New Jersey, Goodwill NYNJ has partnered with the Retail, Hospitality and Tourism Talent Network, the Bergen, Passaic and Hudson Workforce Development Boards to coordinate efforts and reach out to employers and job seekers.

The Passaic County Community College developed a sixty-four-hour training course based on the Common Employability Skills, according to the National Network of Business and Industry Associations, and feedback from Employer Roundtables. The course takes place one day per week for eight weeks. It included the following topics: Leadership Competencies; Interpersonal Communication; Presentation Skills; Team Building; Conflict Resolution; Coaching and Motivating Employees; Change and Stress Management; Sales Process; Goal Setting/Time Management; and Customer Service Excellence.

The next course will start on February 4, 2016. Classes take place once/week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 400 Supor Blvd; Harrison, NJ. Transportation is available from the PATH station in Harrison

For more information about the Careers in Retail courses, please contact Rebecca Shulman, Goodwill Business Engagement Specialist, at (973) 474-2024 or

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