ACT Foundation to Convene First-Of-Its-Kind Summit Focused On Connecting the Right Workers to the Right Jobs in the Retail Sector

Posted: October 5th, 2016

I AM RETAIL, National Retail Services Summit, to See Launch of Skill Mapping Platform

DALLAS — Oct. 3, 2016 — ACT Foundation will bring together an unprecedented gathering of retail industry leaders, researchers and academics to examine industry hiring challenges and solutions during I AM RETAIL: National Retail Services Summit (

The $2.6 trillion retail industry supports 42 million American jobs, or one in four, according to the National Retail Federation. As such, it’s a critical part of the American economy, and a mismatch of labor to open positions can hamper the overall economic well-being of the country.

The summit will be the culmination of the work of the National Retail Services Initiative, a capacity building systemic initiative focused on developing a skill mapping platform (SEEK), related tools and the sector-wide retail services competency model. The model consists of four job roles and seven competencies that define how requirements build on each other. Individuals can use the model to identify new experiences, education and training that will prepare them to move to new jobs in other job roles.

SEEK was developed in partnership with Innovate + Educate; it will allow users to explore careers based on their experience, education, interests and skills developed not only from formal work and educational functions, but also from hobbies and other activities. The segments it focuses on are working learners, researchers, learning providers and employers.

Through SEEK, working learners will be able to mine their occupational passions, making more informed career choices by getting a true perspective on what they are capable of. The tool will let talented worker learners assess possibilities that exist in the present and imagine a future where they are working everyday using skills they love to constantly improve.

“We are glad to be playing a role as researcher and convener for these critical discussions around how retail services can improve working and learning integration,” says Parminder Jassal, executive director, ACT Foundation. “Our research has shown that working learners are 14 million strong and are key drivers for our economy. Partnering with the retail industry, we can support working learners successes and help reduce inequities that result from not understanding how to integrate working and learning to create real-time opportunity and results.”

Marina Gorbis, a futurist and social scientist, will provide the keynote address that will explore the future of retail. She serves as the executive director of the Institute for the Future, a Silicon Valley nonprofit research and consulting organization.

Attendees also will be able to interact with demonstrations of the latest virtual, augmented and mixed reality technologies. Visitors will experience the power of ambient and immersive media technologies that place users in virtual spaces and place virtual objects in the real world.

The 2026 Retail Futures Exhibition will transport them to the world of tomorrow through visions, installations and immersions to demonstrate the full range of provocative future possibilities that will greet working learners who will be in pursuit of greater education, career and life success.

Other sessions include: The Status of Retail: What’s Currently Working and Not Working for Working Learners and Hiring for Competency and Talent Development for Entry Level and Incumbent Workers. A case study will be presented from Indiana, where the state’s policy efforts focus on scaling work-and-learn opportunities and infuse new models of connecting working and learning with particular emphasis on the growing population of working learners.

The Summit will also see the launch of the National Retail Challenge, managed by Hope Street Group and supported by Walmart Foundation and ACT Foundation. The challenge will award a total of $150,000 to five organizations to promote the adoption of competency-based tools and/or training in retail and adjacent sectors.

The summit will occur Oct. 3–4 at the Hyatt Regency in Dallas. The summit is supported by funding from Walmart and ACT as well as the Joyce and Lumina Foundations.

The ACT Foundation aims to catalyze and advance a National Learning Economy that cultivates the success of working learners, businesses and the nation as a whole. Such an economy also holds the promise of increasing diversity within organizations, as women and underrepresented minorities often find themselves among those engaged with balancing being a working learner.


ACT Foundation is working to develop strategic approaches to support working learners in their journeys toward successful careers and lives. Its mission is to help people achieve education and workplace success. ACT Foundation supports low-income working learners age 14-29 in their journeys by exploring, expanding, and providing broader opportunities for combining working and learning for life satisfaction.


Adam Shapiro

Christina Gordon
Senior Director, Strategy and Programs
ACT Foundation