Retail addresses low pay and barriers to progression

We have a great story to tell about working in retail and countless examples of people who have forged very successful careers by making the most of opportunities in the retail industry.

However, retail is often unfairly characterised as a low pay industry and targeted by campaign groups who believe that simply increasing the lowest levels of pay is a panacea to poverty.

“Retail is often unfairly characterised as a low pay industry“

Our industry is the largest private sector employer in the UK – we employ almost three million people, one million of whom are under 24 and one in six has no qualifications. It’s not surprising that there are more lower paid jobs in retail than in banking.

We already have a strong track record of promoting good people quickly, regardless of their qualifications and we are working hard on expanding progression opportunities to more and more of our workforce. The living wage concept in itself is a blunt campaigning tool and doesn’t take into account the fact that people value the flexibility and diversity of retail jobs or the progression opportunities the industry offers.

“We already have a strong track record of promoting good people quickly, regardless of their qualifications“

However, we do have to recognise there are people who are stuck on low pay. The reasons for this are complex. Unpicking these issues and developing sustainable solutions is the route to addressing low pay across our industry and across the wider economy.

The BRC is working with retail HR Directors to look at the barriers to progression in our industry. The results of which will help us create clear routes out of low pay – not just for retail employees but for those who are stuck on low pay across the economy.

Our belief is that this approach will lead to and keep many more people out of low pay than any dogmatic tinkering with hourly pay rates ever could.

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  1. Susanne -

    I believe that an area that needs addressing is the lack of advanced training. I can’t think of another industry that has no advanced training to train retail owners and managers to run a successful shop. Big organisations, such as M&S and Primark, have their own training and so are thriving, it is only small, independent shops who are suffering, and so our High Streets are dying. No wonder Mary Portas can go into indies and find fabulous examples of poor retailing. Why can I not find anywhere that is delivering the Guide to Successful Retailing inspired by Mary Portas and designed by the National Skills Academy in Retail, which by the way lost its funding and now doesn’t exist? It’s also important that this training is free. Small businesses on the High Street have been abandoned and neglected for so long that it will need a serious attitude to the issue to rescue this important focal point of our communities. Get the businesses thriving, then workers can also thrive and the country will thrive.