There are more people working in new jobs in retail than are employed by the entire UK aerospace industry, according to new figures from the British Retail Consortium (BRC).
UK retailers employ some 100,000 people or 3% of the total workforce in roles that didn’t exist five years ago, the organisation has found, with the majority of these jobs in areas that require high levels of technical, scientific or creative skills.
“The UK retail market is the most competitive in the world and it is undergoing a level of structural change not seen before, driven by the phenomenal speed of new technology,” said Charlie Mayfield, chairman of the John Lewis Partnership.
“We all need to rethink how our businesses operate, what our customers need in the future and what this means for the skills of the people we employ.”
Earlier this year, the BRC warned that as many as 900,000 retail roles could disappear by 2025 as the industry adjusts to the new digital landscape and rising cost pressures, combined with processes becoming more efficient.
However, it said although the number of jobs will fall, they will be better skilled and more rewarding, with new roles such as digital artworkers, online merchandisers and personal stylists.
“Where once retail jobs were stigmatised as just ‘shelf-stacking,’ the industry is now a leader in offering opportunities in app development, microbiology or events planning,” said BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson.
The organisation consulted 42 retailers, who employ a combined 1.2 million people, to compile its new report, The Journey to Better Jobs. It aims to underline how training supports progression and adapting retail roles for different life needs.