Over the last ten years we have grown accustomed to a shifting high street. These landscapes, where, once the department store was king, now coffee shops outnumber banks, charity shops and chain restaurants offer an almost soulless experience, one devoid of any true character, as less and less people feel confident enough to take the risk, and open a business on the high streets of Britain.
What these people now do, to test the waters of their market place, is begin by trading through the giant online marketplaces, such as Etsy, Not on the Highstreet, or even parts of Amazon and eBay. Even if they do manage to find a foothold in this flat market, then they will find that there is little to no need for them to move to a high street location.
Whilst we have turned more and more to the world of online shopping, in fact, a study by Royal Mail earlier this year showed that shoppers did as much as 80% of their shopping online. From groceries to household goods. Coupled with the U.K. Cards Association staring at the close of the 2017 financial year that U.K. consumers spent more online, per households, than any other nation. With this in mind, it is no surprise that over the past decade we have said goodbye to high street giants, Woolworths, Blockbusters, BHS and only last month, Toys’R’Us.However, whilst cheaper, more accessible shopping might seem like a boon for everyone, as with a click of a button, you can do your banking, grocery shopping and sort Christmas out, all without putting your shoes on. This does leave us with an ever growing number of redundant retail workers, who, despite potentially having years of retail knowledge and experience, now find themselves competing in a market where their skills appear to be becoming more and more obsolete.
Whilst some are naturally migrating across to the hospitality industry, which itself being a sibling of the retail market, and, as the U.K. leaves memory of the recession of a decade ago behind it, finds its taste buds evolving, as many private coffee shops, cafes and bistros open, all needing a high number of staff.
However this doesn’t solve the main issue with these employees struggling to find their transferrable skills a home in another profession. After all, Napoleon was right when he called us a “Nation of shopkeepers.” Think of Del Boy, the rise of Sir Richard Branson and Lord Sugar, even Margaret Thatcher was the daughter of a greengrocer.
This heritage is one we can’t afford to lose, working in retail teaches the basics of sales in a raw sense. With almost all leads being relatively cold, even the new set of trainees has to come to terms with logistics, marketing and even the psychology of product placement. These core skills that they are versed in, from customer services to stock control and people management, should make them celebrated as people with a broad skill base with the foundations to be easily moved around the job market.
It is because of this perceived lack of transferable skills that recruiters need to engage with the retail workers and show them how their experience can permeate other job markets, and what skills to promote when they are applying for a job. This again shows the importance of recruiters not just finding a candidate a job, but actually guiding them to the right career and helping them to sell themselves. To be a good recruiter you have to provide a service they can’t get elsewhere, you have to educate people on the value of their cv, and then help empower them to achieve their capabilities.
This is why, in order to be Inspired by People, you also need to learn how to help inspire them, remember why you took the role, and help the shopkeepers of Britain keep Britain Great.