Leading retail businesses are at the forefront of providing more career opportunities for individuals who may have been overlooked, a new report on behalf of the Retail Sector Council has outlined. 

The report ’Retail – Employment Opportunities for Everyone’, co-ordinated by the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) as part of the Delivery Group, showcases businesses and organisations that go the extra mile to support people who need help finding work.  

It emphasises the “pivotal” role of the retail sector in the nation’s economy, highlighting its current employment of 3.57 million individuals, which accounts for 10% of all jobs in the country.

Despite this, it reported that the industry is currently facing a significant challenge with approximately 125,000 vacancies yet to be filled, highlighting an “urgent need for innovative recruitment strategies” to address the issue.

According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, at the beginning of 2023, 57% of employers within the retail sector reported difficulties in filling vacancies. 

The report claimed that traditional recruitment pools are becoming insufficient to meet the sector’s needs and suggested that this is a “golden” opportunity for retailers to tap into underutilised recruitment pools, such as care leavers, prison leavers, ex-armed forces personnel, and refugees, among others.

It said that by broadening their recruitment horizons, retailers not only address their immediate staffing needs but also contribute to a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

Retail businesses such as Central Co-op, Tesco, M&S, Lincolnshire Co-op and John Lewis Partnership were among the many businesses recognised in the report. 

Minister of State for Business and Enterprise Kevin Hollinrake highlighted the sector’s significant role in providing a wide array employment opportunities: “This report details the incredible work of the retail sector to boost employment and offer life changing opportunities to the most vulnerable in society. Working together, industry and government will continue to support the retail sector to thrive and grow.”

Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman explained that the retail sector is a champion of good working practices, offering local, secure employment that provides genuine two sided flexibility. 

“ACS is proud to have led this project which showcases the work that retailers are doing to help those who have not been given the same opportunities to succeed as others. These brilliant colleagues are an integral part of the retail workforce and we hope that this report encourages more businesses to look to the under-utilised parts of society to fill vacancies and provide life-changing career opportunities,” said Lowman. 

You can read the full report including case studies here.