13 March 2008
ORC International recently conducted a survey for Skillsmart Retail covering nearly 400 employers from across all sectors of the retail industry. All participating employers recognised that training does improve business performance, and almost all of them said that they took training seriously in their company. Their profound commitment to skills development is very encouraging to Skillsmart Retail – the Sector Skills Council fully devoted to helping UK retailers promote work-related learning and training among their workforce.
Skillsmart Retail was extremely keen to develop demand-led intelligence on issues related to new services and initiatives to be put in place following a Sector Skills Agreement for the retail industry. Skillsmart wished to hear a range of employers’ views on issues such as practicality, relevance and content of the new services. The council was also keen to explore employers’ views about any likely impact of the new initiatives on their business and the wider sector.
Out of six newly proposed services, four initiatives were perceived as of great value to the business by the majority of respondents:
- national recognition of in-house training and development activities (85%)
- pre-employment (81%)
- mentors and coaches for retail managers (80%)
- careers advice (74%)
Fewer, but still more than half of the employers surveyed, were positive about two further schemes (brokerage and retail passport initiatives).
It was important to explore the respondents’ views on “Skills Shops” and how these could most usefully be designed – on the Internet, within individual sites or at a dedicated retail unit located in a large shopping centre.
While 55% of employers predicted that a Skills Shop in a retail unit in a shopping centre would be useful to their business, notably more (67%) felt that access via the Internet would be desirable. Still, the greatest preference was for on-site assistance with retail skills issues for their business (87%).
The vast majority of employers responded positively about training older staff who may already have skills at a certain level and are likely to remain long-term within the sector: only 6% said that they did not tend to train older staff because they already have the necessary skills. On the other hand, there was a mixed opinion as to whether younger employees have fewer of the necessary skills and whether or not they need more training.
In terms of easy access to good management and leadership training for store managers, over half of respondents did not feel this was the case. This perception was particularly profound amongst smaller, independent employers, situated in rural environments.
It is anticipated that the new services and initiatives should play a major role in helping all sectors of the retail industry match the right numbers of people with the right types of skills to maximise the potential for economic productivity.
Skillsmart Retail commented:
“The research conducted by ORC International provided us with an excellent starting point for further consultations with employers and stakeholders throughout the United Kingdom on the range of services Skillsmart Retail wish to promote to retailers.”
Skillsmart Retail aims to be the authority for retail skills development and promotion, contributing to improved productivity.