CWDC Releases Upskilling Frontline Retail Employees Report

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June 23, 2022 - The CWDC is pleased to announce the release of “Upskilling Frontline Retail Employees: A Statewide Approach to Preparing Hospitality, Tourism, Food and Beverage Services, and Retail Employees for the Future of Work.”

This whitepaper shares lessons learned from Colorado’s Lives Empowered initiative, which sought to support and sustain the launch of retail sector partnerships with the goal of piloting upskilling training programs for incumbent retail workers, including those in hospitality, food services, and tourism. 

Government entities, including states and local workforce boards, and their partners can use the report’s findings to chart a course of action to advance their economic recovery in the wake of the pandemic, ensure retail employees’ success, and strengthen employers’ talent pipelines regardless of location, population density, or industry mix. The report also emphasizes the power of upskilling initiatives to address employment disparities in marginalized populations, including women and people of color, who were disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

We encourage you to read the report and share it with your networks. We’d also love to hear about any ongoing upskilling efforts you are overseeing or that you know of. Please send these stories to

For more information and related resources to advance economic mobility for frontline workers, please visit the following links:

  • Lives Empowered Step-by Step Guide: How to Implement Talent Development and Upskilling Initiatives in Communities: This guide provides step-by-step instructions for cities, local workforce boards, counties, or regions interested in advancing the economic mobility and training of frontline workers. The resources in this guide combine national promising practices with lessons learned through the Lives Empowered initiative in Colorado to provide a high-level compilation of the actions taken to create employer-led and locally designed upskilling programs. 
  • Empowerment Score: Lives Empowered partners launched to measure indicators of economic mobility for Colorado’s frontline workforce. The Empowerment Score aims to measure individual, community, and economic characteristics that lead to greater employment stability and increased wages for Colorado workers, and empower state and local decision makers to increase opportunities for individuals to improve their economic status.
  • Lives Empowered Impact Report: This report provides an overview of the Lives Empowered initiative, its effectiveness in upskilling frontline workers, and successes and opportunities for improvement identified throughout the evaluation process. The evaluation can be used by Lives Empowered stakeholders to more fully understand the program’s execution and outcomes as well as to inform policy, programs, and practice at the state and local level to accelerate the upskilling of frontline workers in Colorado.