SAN FRANCISCO — Retailer Gap Inc. announced it plans to hire 5 percent of all entry-level store employees from graduates of the company’s This Way Ahead paid store internship program by 2025. First launched in 2007, the program empowers teens and young adults from low-income communities by teaching them valuable job readiness and life skills while also generating proven talent and business benefits for participating Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy stores. By 2020, the company expects 10,000 teens and young adults will have participated in This Way Ahead, receiving job coaching and critical first job experience.
Currently, This Way Ahead operates in 12 cities: Atlanta, GA; Austin, TX; Boston, MA; Chicago, IL; Houston, TX; Los Angeles, CA; New York, NY; Philadelphia, PA; San Francisco, CA; Toronto, Canada; London, England; and Manchester, England.
“This Way Ahead is a game-changer for the teens and young adults who participate,” says Bobbi Silten, EVP, Global Talent and Sustainability at Gap Inc. Silten added, “Not only do interns have a meaningful first job experience they can include on their resumes, they develop valuable life-skills and build a foundation for future success in the workplace.” The program is a business priority for the company with proven results. This Way Ahead graduates stay with the company twice as long as their peers and have higher engagement scores.
Gap Inc. created This Way Ahead in response to the ongoing challenge of youth unemployment. Research shows that getting a first job as a teenager has a profound impact on an individual’s long-term earning potential. For example, being unemployed young can reduce earnings by as much as 20 percent for up to two decades. Gap Inc. partners with select nonprofits that have strong ties to local communities and a track record of running effective job training and life skills programs on This Way Ahead. Course curriculum includes fundamentals such as resume writing and budgeting, supplemented by workshops facilitated by Gap Inc. employee volunteers. Following their training, teens and young adults 16 – 24 interview for a ten-week paid internship at Old Navy, Gap, or Banana Republic stores. During their internship, participants continue to receive personalized coaching from the nonprofit partner and store managers, while getting hands-on experience working in a store. To date, 75 percent of This Way Ahead alumni have received job offers from Gap Inc.
“Many nonprofits run job training programs, but when the programs end and we want to place them in jobs, it is challenging to find jobs for all the youth who need them,” says Tony DiStefano, Executive Director of Enterprise for Youth, a This Way Ahead nonprofit partner in San Francisco. “Through This Way Ahead, our youth get a first job experience, they’re coached to improve their skills, and they collect a paycheck. They’re getting the skills, confidence, and real-life experience needed for long-term workplace success.”
As a global company with over 3,000 stores as well as corporate offices, brand headquarters, distribution and call centers located around the world, Gap Inc. can offer entry-level employees a rewarding and diverse career path. The majority of the company’s store managers began their careers as entry-level associates.