Obama recruits Gap, McDonald’s for training initiative

Washington, D.C. President Barack Obama announced an initiative on Tuesday linking companies including Gap and McDonald’s Corp. with community colleges for programs aimed at boosting the job skills of American workers. As part of the initiative, Gap will start a pilot program in seven cities, designed to offer community college students job- and career-building skills to help take advantage of potential job opportunities.

The partnership, called “Skills for America’s Future,” grew out of recommendations of the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board.  The goal of the program is to create at least one partnership between industry and community colleges in each state. Obama has said he wants to increase the number of community college degrees and certificates by 5 million in the next decade.

Glenn Murphy, chairman and CEO of Gap, announced its participation in the initiative on Tuesday.

“Our in-house training materials will be made available to all community college students and applicable to many industries,” Murphy said in a statement. He said Gap plans to hire as many as 1,200 students from community colleges in 2011, about 5% of its annual hiring.

The seven markets are in Las Vegas; Denver; Houston; Atlanta; Detroit; Philadelphia; and Washington, D.C. The effort includes in-store job training, interview and leadership training and scholarships. The program may be expanded to other markets and units of the company such as Old Navy, Banana Republic and Gap Outlet factory stores, Murphy’s statement said.

McDonald’s will expand its literacy program for managers and make its “virtual classroom” model available to community colleges.