Gap Inc.’s Pioneering This Way Ahead Program: Giving youth a way in + a way up
Gap Inc. has long been a pioneering leader in the opportunity youth employment space, which builds on the company’s commitment to supporting community development while also addressing a challenging retail environment of high turnover.
Launched over a decade ago, Gap Inc.’s This Way Ahead program was initially designed to give young people facing barriers to employment an opportunity to land a first job. Specifically targeting 16-24 year olds from low-income communities, the program provides participants with a career coach and peer “buddy” to help them navigate the new and sometimes difficult world of work.
Gap Inc. has found that this innovative program has been a powerful talent pipeline. The employees who join the company through This Way Ahead have been shown to stay at the company twice as long as their peers, have higher engagement scores, and secure stable employment at a rate that is 31% higher than that of their peers. This success has led Gap Inc. to announce expansion plans of the program to 53 cities globally, with a commitment to hiring 5% of their entry level workers from This Way Ahead by 2025.
Talent Rewire’s Innovation Labs are the most promising approach I’ve seen for engaging and supporting employers who are changing their practices to respond to shifting demographics to meet their talent needs. This team is doing impressive, systems-changing work. Gap Inc. started This Way Ahead more than 10 years ago to hire and retain Opportunity Youth. We are still innovating and evolving our program today, and have collaborated with Talent Rewire to share our practices with other employers, keep learning, and stay connected to -- and inspired by -- the larger movement of employers engaged in this work.
Executive Director of Community Leadership