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Chris Bell

How the retail industry can help challenge unemployment rates



The unemployment rate is always high up on government agendas, but finding a solution isn’t an easy feat. Less people out of work means fewer people claiming job seekers allowance and a rise in overall disposable income, both advantages for the state of the economy. With the closure of high street stores set to continue in 2019, and retail workers facing the highest levels of unemployment, it’s important that successful retailers do what they can do reduce unemployment in the industry — but how?

Employment and disability

The Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work launched a campaign in 2018 which retailers can voluntarily opt in to, as a measure to help reduce the amount of people out of work due to a disability. It is called the “Disability Confident” employer scheme which provides employers with the skills, examples and confidence to recruit and develop disabled employees.

Retailers can certainly seize this initiative as an opportunity to help expand the workforce, while also assisting the government in achieving its aim to see one million more disabled people in work by 2027. By looking at the Disability Confident list of employers that have signed up, we can see that branches of big names such as Asda, Barclays, and B&M Bargains are all committed.

Encouraging a diverse workforce

Retail is leading the way forward in terms of gender diversity, and in 2017 it was reported that retail companies in the FTSE 100 are ahead of other industries when it comes to diversifying the gender split in its workplaces. Retailers should focus on broadening their selection process when it comes to the recruitment process. This can ensure that those who’ve lost a job in a retail position face equal opportunity when it comes to finding a new role.

Business culture can be notably enhanced when corporations choose to diversify their hiring process, through gender, cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Ultimately, when a workforce is representative of a customer base, it can lead to a better understanding of the target market and an improvement in business performance.

Charity collaboration

Many retailers have benefited from being part of a collaborative charity project to support their employment initiatives, and these methods have secured many young people with roles in the industry.

Mental health and disability charities are just a few examples of organisations which can benefit from the support of a retail partnership, and those effected can find the potential for new opportunities as well as receiving the relevant support.

CT Shirts is one retailer that has certainly embraced this kind of collaboration. This company has a long-standing partnership with the Prince’s Trust which involves fundraising and a mutually beneficial relationship. This charity works closely with vulnerable young people who need a helping hand to get their lives back on track.

The men’s jumpers retailer took advantage of one of The Trust’s “Get Hired” days — helpful sessions which provide introductions to work culture and mock interviews for young people who have been through The Prince’s Trust Programmes to get to know some potential employees.

Cross-discipline training

In accordance with the fast-paced digital age, the retail industry has grown its e-commerce and digital marketing at an exponential rate. Therefore, an important consideration to make is whether retail employees should be trained in other areas of the business too. Or at least should their knowledge of the company and its products or services be valued so that their given the opportunity to progress in another area of the business after redundancy?

The online platform continues to deliver impressive results whereas more physical stores are closing their doors than ever before, and it could prove extremely valuable for retailers to consider adding this variety of training into their businesses. Cross-discipline training can also encourage more loyal employees and therefore those who are more invested in the performance of the retail business as a whole.

While unemployment is a difficult feat for the nation to overcome, there are avenues to pursue for the retail industry amongst others which could help to maintain and grow the workforce. As some companies pave the way, it’s down to other industry players to make big changes too.

Sources

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/feb/27/retail-workers-facing-high-unemployment-thinktank-finds

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/jan/21/over-23000-shops-and-175000-high-street-jobs-predicted-to-go-in-2019

https://www.burton-sweet.co.uk/retailers-encouraged-to-employ-more-disabled-workers/

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/disability-confident-employers-that-have-signed-up

https://www.ctshirts.com/uk/princes-trust-interview.html