By: Carol Abel, Vice President of Education, Food Marketing Institute Retail Mangement Certificate Program

The dominant success story in food retail is so often the guy or gal who started out bagging groceries or working the cash register and who worked his or her way up to the executive ranks. Our industry tends to promote from within and to value industry experience over academic background. But in today’s world that may no longer be enough.

More and more often lately, I’ve been hearing from retail members who are concerned about workforce development, succession planning, and where tomorrow’s talent will be found. 

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 68 percent of U.S. jobs by 2018—including the grocery industry—will require a credential, if not a degree. That’s significant when you consider that according to 2010 Census Bureau data only 30 percent of adults ages 25 or older have a bachelor’s degree or higher and for those working in the grocery industry that number drops to only 14 to 20 percent.

Education is going to be key for those working in the food retail industry to progress their careers and for employers to retain quality talent. But how? The Retail Management Certificate is one way people working in food retail can advance their careers and employers can invest in future leaders.

On the employee side, the certificate program is part of the White House Upskill Initiative and partners with accredited Community Colleges. It is available online nationally and on campuses throughout the U.S. The certificate can be completed in as little as one year and employers say the skills taught by the program make applicants more likely to be hired or promoted to management and leadership roles. 

For employers, the certificate program can help your employees develop skills they can apply immediately to their position while they develop into game-changers for your stores. The Retail Management Certificate program was developed by the Western Association of Food Chains and is endorsed by FMI as well as other industry associations.

Getting ahead in food retail is all about developing the skill needed to succeed. Learn more at or contact Carol Abel for information about programs in your area.