Retail workers have new chance at raises

SAN DIEGO - A brand new program could help put San Diego retail workers on the path to higher-paying jobs.

Victoria Kungli could be one of those workers. She's currently a bartender at the Rough Draft Craft Brewery in Miramar. But she doesn't just pour beers, she also sells their gear like T-shirts and stickers. 

"Probably about one person a day comes in and buys a shirt at least," she said. 

And it's that small act that's landing her a chance to learn new, employable skills - an opportunity that many times evades the nearly 150,000 San Diegans who work in the retail industry. They often wonder how to advance their careers.

But the answer could come in a $400,000 program the San Diego Workforce Partnership just launched. The agency will split the cost with local retailers who want to arm their workers with those new skills. Rough Draft is one of the first companies on board. 

"The whole idea is that people will roll out of this training with more skills, and the more skills that someone has, the more compensation they can get," said Jeff Silver, owner of Rough Draft.

Kungli, for instance, said she'd like to learn more about event planning. And that kind of training would help her host events at the craft brewery.

"It would help me personally in the future because that's what I would like to be doing eventually, to have my own catering business," she said.

And she may not have to go anywhere to get her start.

The Workforce Partnership is looking for retail employers to apply for the program. Applications are accepted until Feb. 27, 2017, and the training must be completed by March 24, 2017.

Workers can tell their employers to contact Christiane Becker, at 619-228-2963 or at Christianebecker@workforce.org

The program is funded with a grant from the Wal-Mart Foundation. 

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