Metro North Regional Employment Board
Building Partnerships for a Better Workforce

Metro North Program for Retail Opportunities



The Metro North Program for Retail Opportunities (MNPRO) is a collaboration of the Metro North REB and its One-Stop career centers, Career Source and The Career Place. The program aims to address local retailers’ need to hire qualified candidates by providing job seekers with retail training, career coaching, and job placement, and to educate the public on the wide range of growth opportunities. The program will run through 2018, with the goal of training over 300 individuals, and partnering with over 50 employers in the region. This program is made possible by a generous grant from the Walmart Foundation.

Metro North Retail Training Program

This two-week training course is for those interested in entering into, and/or advancing in, the retail industry. This course, provided at no cost to the participants, utilizes a customer service sales and fundamentals curriculum developed by the National Retail Federation. All participants recieve the following free services:

  • Training and credentialing in customer service and sales fundamentals through the National Retail Federation
  • Assistance with securing a position within the retail industry
  • Career coaching while working
  • Guidance on how to advance your career in the retail industry

If you are interested in learning more about the program, please contact a program representative at one of the career centers:

Laurie Holman
Career Source, Cambridge or Chelsea
617-661-7867 ext. 236


Gayle Sommer
The Career Place, Woburn




Do the career centers offer information sessions so I can learn more before committing to the program? Yes. Information sessions last approximately one-half hour. If you are interested in enrolling in the program, you will be requested to take a one-hour assessment following the session.


When is the program offered? Training sessions are offered throughout the year. Dates will be posted on the One-Stop Career Centers’ websites, or . You can also call Career Source at 617-661-7867 ext. 236, or The Career Place at (781) 932-5518.


Is there a cost to participate? No. The two-week training program, credentialing exam, and job placement and support services are all provided at no-cost to participants.


What does it mean to be certified by the National Retail Foundation (NRF)? NRF Certification is recognized by many MA -based employers. An NRF certificate signifies that you have a solid understanding of foundational sales and customer service concepts.


The local retail industry in Metro North represents a wide range of products and services — including building materials and other home related retail supplies, general merchandise, food stores, auto dealers, apparel stores, and home services.

There are many retail establishments of varying sizes in the region. For example, there are 210 retail establishments with 50+ employees, 80 establishments with 100+ employees, and 30 establishments with 200+ employees . Average salaries for entry-level occupations in the region range from approximately $30,000 for a retail salesperson to $85,000 for a service sales representative.

The Metro North Retail Advisory Council

The Metro North Retail Advisory Council is a partnership between local retailers and the Metro North Regional Employment Board and its One-Stop Career Centers. The Council works closely with the Metro North REB and its career centers to establish a comprehensive understanding of the workforce needs of the local retail industry, as well as develop effective strategies to meet these needs.

Do you represent a local employer? Join us!
The Metro North Retail Advisory Council provides a unique forum for sharing information and ideas that serve to support the workforce needs of MA employers in the retail industry. There is no cost to join, and the time involvement is up to you. Some of the many benefits, as well as engagement opportunities, that can be accessed through the Council include: Providing input and guidance on the Metro North retail training curricula to ensure alignment with your needs, with the goal of increasing sales and improving the customer experience; Learning strategies to reduce employee turnover; Interviewing National Retail Federation training graduates for open positions within your company; Receiving free, customized retail sales and customer service training for staff; and Assisting in promoting a positive image of a career pathway in the retail sector. If you are interested in learning more about the Metro North Retail Advisory Council, please contact:

Benjamin Christensen

Program Manager
Metro North Regional Employment Board
186 Alewife Brook Parkway, Suite 216
Cambridge, MA 02138


One of First Metro North Retail Training Program Participants Now Works for "Dream Employer"

When Mehari Yirgu arrived in the U.S. just over a year ago, he had his sights set on working in the retail industry.  As a non-profit professional in his home country of Ethiopia, he was responsible for recruiting and training teams of people to develop and launch small-scale businesses. He was promoted several times, and had developed skills and expertise that he knew could parlay well into the retail industry – yet he knew he needed to learn more about the culture and practice of retail in the U.S.

When Mehari received an email from Career Source offering free retail training and placement support services through the new Metro North Program for Retail Opportunities, made possible by a grant from the Walmart Foundation, he knew this was the right opportunity for him, and immediately enrolled in the course with the goal of working for Home Depot. After successfully completing the two-week course, Mehari started working for Home Depot August 13th, 2016.  He says is proud to be working for this company, and hopes to ultimately become a member of the leadership team.  Mehari said the training was more than he expected – he was delighted to get the chance to learn, in a hands-on manner, such a wide range of skills, from customer service to merchandise display.  He found the instructors to be both extremely approachable and knowledgeable about the industry. “The instructors have a gift for helping people.  They are very informative and experienced in the field, and I very much appreciate all they have done,” Mehari said.

The Metro North Program for Retail Opportunities will run through 2018, with the goal of training over 300 individuals, and partnering with over 50 employers in the Metro North Region.  Updates will be provided here.

Funding is part of a $10.9 million grant awarded to The Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership from the Walmart Foundation

Cambridge, MA, Sept. 7, 2016 – Today, the Walmart Foundation announced that the Metro North Regional Employment Board (REB) has been selected to receive a $400,000 grant from The Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership (The Partnership) as part of an effort to increase the economic mobility of workers in retail and adjacent sectors in the 20 cities and towns that comprise the Metro North Region, and around the U.S.

The Metro North REB is one of 10 Workforce Development Boards (WDBs) selected across the country to collectively form and implement new models of career services specific to retail – models that will serve as best practices for the approximately 550 WDBs in the U.S. that already provide career services, such as career coaching, soft skills training, specialized skills training and referrals to other resources. The funding is part of a $10.9 million grant the Walmart Foundation made to The Partnership in March 2016.

“Our collaborative effort with The Partnership, Metro North business leaders and government officials, and the nine other selected WDBs will allow us to foster workforce training innovation in a sector that WDBs have not traditionally focused on – retail,” said Sunny Schwartz, Executive Director of the Metro North Regional Employment Board. “With the retail industry supporting one in four American jobs, this grant presents a tremendous potential for impact, from entry-level to middle skills jobs. The goal of this grant is to create clear career paths in retail for hundreds of workers, providing skills training and new approaches to accelerate career advancement.”

The funding provided to the Metro North Regional Employment Board from The Partnership will provide a variety of services to job seekers, including:

 Job readiness training customized to the retail sector, including helping jobseekers acquire the "soft skills" that are critical for workplace success such as teamwork, leadership, communication and conflict resolution.
 Job placement assistance, resume writing help and interviewing skills workshops.
 Post placement services to promote job retention.
Among the services the Metro North REB will offer employers are:
 Serving as a point of contact for retail employers in the area for recruiting and training opportunities, including career tracks such as sales, customer service, logistics, merchandising/buying and management.
 Customized recruiting and screening and assistance in writing job descriptions for new positions.
 Employee retention assistance and improving the supply of qualified job candidates.

The Metro North Program for Retail Opportunities is a collaboration of the Metro North REB and its One-Stop career centers, Career Source and The Career Place. The primary goal of this program is to meet the workforce needs of the region’s retail employers. Approximately 350 job seekers, and 50 employers from throughout the region will benefit from The Partnership grant.
“As one of the largest provider of jobs for the American workforce, the retail industry presents many opportunities for workers to grow and thrive,” said Kathleen McLaughlin, president of the Walmart Foundation and chief sustainability officer for Walmart. "Through our work with The Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership, we are helping ensure that retail workers have the skills, training and education needed to build long-lasting careers."

In February 2015, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation committed $100 million over five years to strengthen the skills of the broader U.S. workforce by funding programs to create career paths in retail and related industries and train thousands of workers outside of Walmart. The two-year grant to The Partnership is the largest investment to date as part of Walmart and the Walmart Foundation’s Opportunity initiative, which aims to increase the economic mobility of workers in retail and adjacent sectors by working with nonprofits, educational institutions and government agencies to make it easier for frontline workers to move faster into middle skills roles.

For more information about the grant awarded to the Metro North REB, please visit:





 Metro North REB, Fresh Pond Mall, 186 Alewife Brook Parkway, Suite 216, Cambridge, MA 02138