‘World Class’ in session at WAG U

Walgreens on Friday opened the doors to "Walgreens University,” an internal education center equipped with technology-enhanced classrooms, a mock drug store and video-conferencing capabilities. The new learning center will be the base of operations for employee educational programs offered online and in regional locations nationwide.

Competing in the new age of retail, where bricks, clicks and anything in between compete for a larger share of the omnichannel customer, will require new skill sets and a generally better educated workforce at every level of the organization, but particularly at the store level. The winners will create a more personalized shopping experience that leverages the expertise in its stores. It will continue to create new positions in the store — health guides, more beauty advisors, more advanced roles for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians.

By doubling its investment in employee training, Walgreens is acknowledging what other world-class companies have come to acknowledge. U. S. companies overall increased spending on training and development 12% last year — the highest growth rate in eight years, according to research from Bersin by Deloitte, a human resources consulting firm. That’s a reverse of recession-year spending in 2008 and 2009, when such investments dropped by 11% both years.