Why Levi’s is Cross-Training Employees to Become Data Scientists

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated a number of ongoing retail trends, but it also upended many business norms. Facing a surge in eCommerce sales across the industry, retailers required more workers skilled in artificial intelligence and machine learning.

One retailer solving the need for itself is Levi’s, which enrolled 43 employees in a new program that teaches coding and statistical analysis. The company’s machine learning bootcamp brought in a range of workers that didn’t have data scientist skills, and aims to create new career growth opportunities for them by teaching them new skills, The Wall Street Journal reported. 

Executive Summary

Levi’s upskilling program comes at a time when many businesses are facing challenges finding enough workers to fill open roles, revealing how retailers can pivot to fill vacant positions.


March jobs numbers revealed just 266,000 jobs were added to the economy - well below the estimated 1 million added jobs for the month. At the same time, 8.1 million job openings were reported at the end of March--a new record, according to the U.S. Labor Department. There were 342,000 more retail job openings in March than the prior year, reflecting both the huge need for businesses to rehire amid pandemic business reopenings. However, the job openings are the second-highest ever when compared over the last decade, WSJ reported.

Some retailers and restaurants are offering signing bonuses as well as bonus incentives for vaccinated workers in an effort to attract new hires. While many retailers are filling roles that were vacated during the pandemic, other skilled workers are in huge demand.

“The pandemic exposed a shortage of digital skills in retailing,” WSJ reported. 

Levi’s is not alone in retraining its workforce to meet its post-pandemic needs. Verizon Communications, which temporarily shuttered its doors of many retail locations, retrained 20,000 employees for a wide range of jobs, and it plans to retrain 100,000 more to prepare for 5G. Walmart also offers its employees opportunities to earn a high school or college degree for just $1 per day through its program with Guild Education.

For retailers, retraining employees can be more cost effective than finding new talent. As more of the U.S. economy returns to normal, it’s likely more businesses will turn to upskilling their workforce to navigate the new challenges and demands.