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Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Retail: The Truth About Job Pledges & Retail Job Snobbery

This year the supermarkets are pledging thousands of jobs, joining schemes to address youth unemployment, and invest in skills and qualifications. Sainsbury's yesterday launched a campaign called 'Youth Can' to address snobbery in retail careers, especially in supermarkets, and attract young people into careers with them. As there are job losses elsewhere in the both the public and private sectors government is hoping that growth in supermarket jobs will help to partly address the balance.

The Current Pledges:

Tesco are planning to create 20,000 jobs over two years as they invest in improving existing stores and open new ones. They are the country's largest retail employer and the third largest in the UK after the NHS and Ministry of Defence with more than 293,000 employees and 2,715 stores in the UK.

What's it Like to Work at Tesco - Matt Simister of Tesco Group Food Sourcing (GFS)

Asda has announced earlier this year the creation of 5,000 UK jobs with a £500 million expansion plan that includes opening 25 stores, refurbishing 43 stores and opening three new depots. This expansion will support 5,000 new positions on top of the 30,000 staff it took on last year through new store openings and the acquisition of the 147 Netto sites and staff. Overall they currently employ 180,000 people in 528 store across the UK.

What's it like to work at Asda: Sarah - Head of Strategy and Strategic Planning at Asda

Sainsbury's rather ambitiously last year pledged to invest £1 billion in creating 50,000 jobs by 2020, creating 20,000 of those over the next three years. They currently employ around 146,000 people with 577 supermarkets and 377 convenience stores.

What's it like to work in Sainsbury's - Trainee Manager Scheme - Round Table

Past Pledges vs Hired:

However its hard to take this seriously in the current climate when past promises are not being delivered on, according to research by the Financial Mail:

Sainsbury's, Tesco and Asda collectively pledged to create 67,000 jobs between 2008 and 2010. After gathering information from annual reports and data filed at Companies House the research suggests that only 28,217 jobs were actually created permanently as they shed existing jobs through efficiency drives and cycles... so the actual amount of jobs created was just 42 % of the positions pledged. This created a short fall of 38,783 of the jobs promised, which has some critics understandably cynical about the jobs that will be created over the next couple of years.

There's no doubt that supermarket retailers are hiring in significant numbers and there is growth in profits year on year. There are lots of opportunities for young people who shouldn't just view it as it as a dead end job. There are so many different roles for young people either through apprenticeship schemes or for graduates coming into the sector. I think the 'Youth Can' initiative is an excellent way to engage with young people and get them in to careers in retail, debunking the preconceptions and myths that retail jobs are just low level, unambitious stop gaps.

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