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Mayfield warns of retail skills crisis

John Lewis Partnership chairman Charlie Mayfield has urged retailers to focus on developing employee skills - after likening a potential shortage of retail skills to a ticking time bomb that could be the business equivalent of climate change.

Speaking at last week’s employer conference organised by skills council Skillsmart Retail, Mayfield said that, despite tough times, it would be short-sighted to ignore the need to invest in skills, both to strengthen businesses and attract staff.

Mayfield said retailers, through involvement with Skillsmart Retail, should engage with the Government to make the case for investment in skills and articulate more clearly what businesses needed.

He said staff retention was “worth millions” to employers and that it was equally important to explain to staff what a company would do for them in terms of career development and progression.

Mayfield said: “Ten years ago, climate change was a big challenge. Cycle forward 10 years, and the situation is very different. Maybe skills is the climate change of this decade. If you don’t do something, then in five or 10 years it will be a problem.”

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