SOURCE: Rio Salado College

Rio Salado College

December 20, 2011 17:01 ET

Rio Salado College Offers Retail Management Certificate

TEMPE, AZ--(Marketwire - Dec 20, 2011) - The Western Association of Food Chains (WAFC) and Arizona Food Marketing Alliance (AFMA) are encouraging Arizona food industry workers to take advantage of the Retail Management Certificate Program offered online through Rio Salado College and in-person at eight participating colleges in the Maricopa County Community College District (MCCCD).

According to Darl Andersen, President and CEO of Bashas' grocery stores, the tuition reimbursement offered by AFMA and the monetary award given to program completers by WAFC are investments that return huge rewards to member companies.

"The Retail Management Program equips our workforce with the skills needed to meet current and future business challenges," Andersen said. "WAFC-approved classes improve the management skills of our members, and help to prepare future leaders in our company."

MCCCD Economic Development Specialist Steve Kiefer said he believes that the WAFC program is a perfect example of community college partnerships that offer both individual and corporate growth.

"The retail management certificate is an opportunity to help students move forward in their careers. It also helps local businesses improve the quality of their workforce and reduce turnover," Kiefer said.

He added, "The program really highlights the strengths of the Maricopa district and offering the program using Rio Salado's online platform just makes sense. We're talking about retail and grocery store employees who need to be able to complete their classwork without disrupting their work schedule."

Rio Salado student Gina Denault agreed saying that taking the courses online has been the key to accomplishing her academic goals.

"I work full-time as a front end manager at Albertson's, and these online classes have given me the opportunity to manage my time the way I need in order to complete all of the course material and projects," Denault said. "It does not conflict with my vacations, heavier work weeks or any other activities that I am involved in."

Albertson's Education Manager Natalie Murphy recommended Rio's online format to Denault.

"Most people who work in retail have schedules that change weekly," Murphy said. "Attending classes from home and working around their schedule makes it a great opportunity for those who would like to pursue higher education but thought their schedule wouldn't allow it." She added, "Gina is a high-energy associate who understands the benefit of a good, quality education and many of our associates fit into that profile."

"The ability to provide all 10 Retail Management Certificate courses in an online format is significant to WAFC employees and managers who are very capable, but tend to be time-starved and unable to attend traditional college classes," said Cherie Phipps, WAFC Education Director.

Phipps also said post-secondary credentials are especially valuable to grocery stores and their supply community because educational attainment is relatively low across the industry, even at executive levels.

"The food industry has not historically focused on education," Phipps said. "Only 14-20 percent of the industry, including senior management, holds post-secondary credentials. As a result, employees at every level (from cashier to president) have enrolled and have benefitted."

Rio Salado College is one of ten Maricopa Community Colleges and the largest online public community college in the nation, serving nearly 70,000 students annually with more than 41,000 online. Founded in 1978, Rio Salado offers degree and certificate programs and general education courses. The college also provides support for dual enrollment, military and incarcerated students. It is the largest provider of adult basic education in Arizona and served more than 9,500 students last year.

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