Supermarket giant, Woolworths, this week announced its plans to invest more than $50 million as it prepares for the retail industry of the future.
The Woolworths Future of Work Fund, which is to be orchestrated between this year and 2024, will help upskill, reskill and redeploy team members impacted by industry disruption and technological change.
It will also underpin the launch of an online learning platform to offer team members easily accessible training, apprenticeship and mentoring support across Australia.
The key technical focus areas for training will be in digital, data analytics, machine learning and robotics, with further investment planned for advanced customer service skills, team leadership and agile ways of working.
The Fund is expected to support training for more than 60,000 Woolworths team members over three years across its store and e-commerce operations, supply chain network and support offices.
Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci said the retail domain, globally, was changing at the fastest pace in decades.
“Technological advances in automation, predictive analytics, AI and cloud computing are making core retail processes much faster and more efficient than ever before,” he said.
“While these changes push our industry forward for the better, they’re also changing the nature of the day to day work many of our people do.
“That’s an exciting prospect on many levels, but it also creates uncertainty. As Australia’s largest private employer, we want to lead on this transition and ensure no team member is left behind by the wave of change we’re all riding.
“The Future of Work Fund is designed to equip our team members with new skills and capabilities that will not only serve their career well within Woolworths, but across a number of industries.”
In the coming months, the Fund will formalise partnerships with key learning institutions and other stakeholders as Woolworths looks to achieve what it called an integrated and holistic approach.
Knowledge determined from the program will reportedly be shared across retail and other service industries to help support economy-wide upskilling and training programs.
“In 2021, we’re the proud employer of more than 200,000 Australians. Despite a wave of technological change ahead, we truly believe we’ll have many more people working in our business by 2030,” said Banducci.
“Where they work and what they do will change. There will be a much stronger emphasis on service and personal interactions with customers, which will be good for customers and our business.
“We want to bring our team with us as we strive to build a better tomorrow, and ensure Woolworths continues to play an essential role in the future of work in this country.”