Gap Inc has announced plans to expand “This Way Ahead”, an on-the-job training program aimed at 16 to 24 year-olds from low-income households. The company aims to extend the program from 15 to 53 cities in the US, Canada, Japan and UK, until the end of the year. Launched in 2017, the initiative is part of Gap’s plans to make its workforce more diverse: the company wants five percent of all its entry-level store employees to be recruited via “This Way Ahead” by 2025.

“We believe in the universal power of a first job”, said Brent Hyder, Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer at Gap Inc, in a statement. “This Way Ahead provides the experiences and skills that young people need to succeed both in work and in life”.

Twenty-two of the 53 cities are to be located in the US, and Gap aims to extend the number of US cities to 60 by the end of 2019. Employees will be recruited through a partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, with opportunities at Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic and Athleta stores available all year round.

In the UK, Gap plans to extend the program from three to 11 cities. A partnership with the Multi-Cultural Center of Tokyo will also allow the company to pilot the program in select Gap and Banana Republic stores in the Japanese capital.

According to Gap, 72 percent of the program’s alumni go on to secure stable employment, compared to 55 percent among low-income youth in general. But the intention to expand the program is not just a means to help others, as the company benefits from it as well: “This Way Ahead” participants tend to stay twice as long with the company as their peers. In addition, they have higher engagement scores than their co-workers. “This Way Ahead isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do”, concluded Hyder.

 

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