'World class' in session

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By now you probably have heard about "Walgreens University," the internal education center the company opened last month, complete with technology-enhanced classrooms, a mock drug store and video-conferencing capabilities for employee educational programs.

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. The winners will create a more personalized shopping experience that leverages the expertise in their stores.

This will continue to create new positions at store level — health guides, more beauty advisers, more advanced roles for pharmacists and pharmacy technicians. As Walgreens tests the outer boundaries of what "fresh" looks like in a drug store, it is creating a variety of new positions from baristas to smoothie bar mixologists.

U.S. companies overall increased spending on training and development 12% last year, according to research from Bersin by Deloitte, a human resources consulting firm.

After years of cutting training budgets, leading companies now are putting their investment against arguably the best resource they have — their people. Product exclusives and private brand aside, it's very difficult in the drug store to differentiate with product. Service and services make you different — and that's about people.

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