Last updated: 24.07.15

Retailers need more workers with digital skills

A new report released by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) has revealed that British retailers are on the hunt for graduates with strong digital and customer service skills in order to boost their productivity and performance levels.

The report, entitled "Sector insights: skills and performance challenges in the retail sector", showed that hiring people with more technical-based skills and enhancing the skillset of a workforce will enable retailers to keep on top of the rapidly changing industry.

Skilled workers in the retail sector are in demand, as many graduates turn to career paths other than retail. The research revealed that one in five retailers admitted to skills gaps in their workforce.

The report also emphasised the need for retail establishments in the UK to create clear progression routes, update their existing image and showcase opportunities that use technology-based skills to undergraduates and graduates looking for their next career step.

As well as this, the research stressed the fact that retailers must be tuned into their tech-savvy customers, since 12 per cent of the total value of retail sales comes from online shopping.

Retailers must therefore work to create an omni-channel shopping experience for their customers, with a seamless blend between online and offline offers.

The UKCES' report highlighted the importance of customer service assistants to help deliver high-quality service in-store. Currently, these workers comprise half of the 3.1 million retail employees in the UK. However, they are difficult to recruit due to not enough applicants possessing the skills.

Vicki Belt, assistant director at UKCES, said: "The wholesale and retail sector is the largest sector in the UK economy by employment, but sector productivity is relatively low.

"There is scope to improve productivity by making full use of existing talent and ensuring that workers have the opportunity to build their skills and experience, and progress within the sector."

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