Woolworths today announced a $50 million Future of Work Fund to train 60,000 staff over three years in digital, data analytics, machine learning and robotics in preparation for a wave of disruption across the supermarket sector.

The supermarket giant — Australia’s largest private employer — says the training and an upcoming online learning platform will help it respond to industry disruption by reskilling and redeploying staff impacted by technology change.

Woolworths employs 200,000 people and has been experimenting with automated order picking and two-hour delivery off the back of an ongoing focus on insight-driven decision making.

Future of Work Fund

Today the company committed $50 million to train its staff in the new skills necessary to leverage new retail technologies across its e-commerce operations, supply chain network and support offices.

“The Future of Work Fund is designed to equip our team members with new skills and capabilities that will not only serve their career within Woolworths, but across a number of industries,” said Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci.

The retraining includes training for staff at the Minchinbury, Yennora and Mulgrave Woolworth sites expected to close by 2025. The company says staff there will be able to retrain for new roles in the Woolworths Group or for careers outside of the organisation.

“Despite a wave of technological change ahead, we truly believe we’ll have many more people working in our business by 2030,” Banducci said.

“Where they work and what they do will change. There will be a much stronger emphasis on service and personal interactions with customers, which will be good for customers and our business.

“We want to bring our team with us as we strive to build a better tomorrow, and ensure Woolworths continues to play an essential role in the future of work in this country.”

Woolworths says partnerships with learning institutions will be formalised over the coming months and it is open to sharing the knowledge across retail and service industries to support economy-wide upskilling.

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