Aiming to build on its LVMH Fundamentals in Luxury Retail program, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the Chinese-American Planning Council and Parsons The New School for Design are extending their initiative through 2015.

Launched last year, the partnership was established to address the needs of luxury retailers to better serve their Mandarin-speaking clientele. In addition, it was set up to train bilingual English and Mandarin speakers, including those who are unemployed and underemployed as well as those who have recently immigrated to the U.S. With an end goal of helping participants land luxury retail jobs, the program has seen 41 individuals complete the program and more than 70 percent of the graduates have found jobs primarily with LVMH, according to a company spokeswoman. Those placements have resulted in tripling the average increase in hourly wages, not including commissions or bonuses. Given that, the CPC described the initiative as the most successful training program in terms of its first-year placement rate and wage growth in the group’s 40-year history of providing workforce development programs in New York City.

Chantal Gaemperle, group executive vice president, human resources and synergies at LVMH, which conceived the concept for the program, said, “The goals of this program reflect a greater focus within LVMH of establishing creative, innovative initiatives across our group that enable us to make a positive and enduring impact on society.”

The first part of the program consists of eight weeks of classroom instruction at Parsons with professors from the school, LVMH executives and CPC Workforce staffers. Following that, participants spend two weeks interning in a LVMH-owned retail store. Thus far, participants in the program have gone on to work at Louis Vuitton, Dior, Thomas Pink, Fendi, Bulgari, Sephora and DKNY stores, among others.

As was the case last year, the program will continue to receive funding from The Robin Hood Foundation. Recruiting is underway for the first session, which will start March 30. The program is open to bilingual English and Mandarin speakers who are legally able to work in the U.S. Candidates need a high school diploma or the equivalent of one. They should be underemployed or unemployed and passionate about fashion and retail.

CPC chief executive officer David Chen said, “The program is providing participants with an exceptional range of skills and knowledge that has and will continue to serve them well in finding employment and embarking on exciting career paths.”

The CPC generally helps 1,000 people find work each year through its direct placement and training programs. Typically, people who use the CPC’s direct placement program earn between $10 and $12 an hour, according to Simon Chiew, the group’s director of work force and development. Those who use the CPC’s non-LVMH training program average between $13.50 and $16.50 an hour, he said. Those figures do not reflect what LVMH pays graduates of the program who are hired on a full-time basis.

One of the upsides of the LVMH Fundamentals in Luxury Retail program for the CPC has been increased requests from other fashion businesses seeking bilingual employees.

Joel Towers, executive dean of Parsons, said, “Our core mission for this program and partnership has been to bring design education to those who may not have had access to it with the goal of positive, social change.”

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