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    Report highlights retail sector’s commitment to providing career opportunities

    A new report released today (13) on behalf of the Retail Sector Council has outlined the work that leading retail businesses are doing to create more career opportunities for people that would otherwise be overlooked.

    The retail sector is the UK’s largest private sector employer. With approximately 3.57 million individuals currently working in this sector, it accounts for up to 10 per cent of all jobs in the UK. Despite this, the industry faces a significant challenge with around 125,000 vacancies yet to be filled, highlighting an urgent need for innovative recruitment strategies. This report outlines the ways in which leading high street and online retailers are partnering with organisations to promote the recruitment of underutilised parts of the population, including older people and career returners, refugees, prison leavers, disabled people, care leavers and ex-armed forces personnel.

    The report, entitled Retail – Employment Opportunities for Everyone was co-ordinated by the Association of Convenience Stores as part of the Delivery Group, on behalf of the Retail Sector Council.

    One inspiring success story featured in the report is that of Aisha, who benefitted from the Bright Future Co-operative initiative in partnership with Causeway. Rescued from seven years of forced labour and abuse, Aisha’s job as a Co-op customer assistant marked the beginning of her new life. This role not only gave her financial independence but also a welcoming community where she formed lasting friendships, significantly impacting her recovery and self-esteem.

    “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,” said Minister of State for Business and Enterprise Kevin Hollinrake.

    British Retail Consortium CEO Helen Dickinson OBE commented, Retail remains an exciting and innovative industry to work in and this report highlights the diverse pool of talent which exists right across the industry. As retail jobs become higher skilled and better paid, it is vital that we continue to reach every community and to employ the best talent available.

    “We must not rest on our laurels. We go further and faster on our drive to be the most inclusive industry we can be – identifying and breaking down those barriers which prevent talented individuals from getting involved. Yet, I am confident that we can deliver the change we aspire for, and I am excited to see the industry rise to the challenge.”

    Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman said: “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.”

    The retailer case studies featured in the report are from the following businesses:

    • Bright Future Co-Operative
    • Tesco
    • Superdrug and Savers
    • John Lewis Partnership
    • Lincolnshire Co-Op
    • Iceland
    • Midcounties Co-Op
    • M&S
    • The Very Group
    • Amazon
    • Central Co-Op
    • Boots

    The supporting organisations featured in the report are:

    • Drive Forward Foundation
    • Causeway
    • Working Wise
    • Working Chance
    • Career Returners
    • Spectra
    • Refugee Council
    • New Futures Network
    • Business in the Community
    • The Prince’s Trust

    The Retail Sector Council provides a single source of strategic liaison between the Department for Business and Trade, on behalf of all other Government Departments, and the retail sector. The objective of the Council is to accelerate positive change, increase the productivity of the retail sector and ensure it remains robust and sustainable to continue providing a beneficial service to consumers and the community. The Council is made up of widely experienced figures from across all parts of the retail industry, including large businesses, SMEs, traditional “bricks and mortar” businesses and pureplay online retailers.

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