Careers education for young people is key to business recovery.
The high street is at the heart of local communities – and many retailers have been hit hard by lockdown. The impact of Covid-19 on this sector has resulted in unprecedented damage, with thousands of retailers closed. At the same time, retailers have demonstrated innovation, resilience, and adaptability.
The same can also be said of schools and colleges. We have spoken to teachers across the country who, much like businesses, have had their ‘business as usual’ turned upside down and had to think creatively to adapt their methods. With households transformed into online learning hubs, teachers and parents have worked hard to continue to engage and educate young people.
In the coming months, we will collectively continue the gradual process of reopening. Focus will understandably be on the immediate challenges of how to trade in the new normal – social distancing for staff and customers – providing and maintaining safe environments. But as eyes begin to lift from these immediate challenges, it is imperative to look to longer term sustainability issues in the retail sector and ensure strong talent pipelines for the future.
As this sector knows more than most, having the right people with the right skills, behaviours and attitudes is key to remaining competitive. Young people are your workforce of tomorrow. But the question is what is needed in this new world? Which roles will be available to the next generation? What skills are now more important than ever? Retail has seen an accelerated digital transformation during COVID19, more remote working, new processes and systems to deliver to and engage with customers. Young people need to understand the opportunities open to them once they leave education and, crucially, the skills that they should be developing now to prepare them for success and to stand out from an ever-increasing pool of applicants.
The Careers & Enterprise Company is the government-backed national body who connects businesses with education to ensure young people are prepared and inspired for the ever-changing world of work. Over recent years, we have supported a transformation in careers guidance across the country, working with all parties to raise the standard and deliver excellence to young people, so they have the best possible start in life.
With this model, we’re proud to partner with the British Retail Consortium, and the Rethink Retail Programme to promote retail as a career choice for young people. We have showcased the Rethink Retail platform to our network of over 3,000 Enterprise Advisers – senior business volunteers working directly with a school or college's senior leadership team to develop their careers programme.
Leading retail partners in our network include the Co-Op, Tesco and Burberry. They are demonstrating why working with young people in schools and colleges is vitally important both to business and to the communities which retailers serve. In Lincolnshire, The Co-Op’s Matt Brown told us that the benefits for businesses in careers education are endless, but “working together with education providers offers a great way to network and build an understanding of what both parties can mutually gain from volunteering in this way – and has helped us to identify and employ new colleagues and apprentices”. Matt also said that with so many other demands, the help of our network has made the process easier for him – and has made him feel more supported in the process.
We would love to see retailers engaging with schools, colleges and young people in every corner of the country. During COVID19 we have seen fantastic examples of employers transforming their traditional activities of career talks and work experience to deliver them virtually, and we’ve seen young people engage more than ever. We’d love to support you to do the same.
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To find out more about The Careers & Enterprise Company and the services they provide to the retail industry, click here.
This article was also published in The Retailer, our quarterly online magazine providing thought-leading insights from BRC experts and Associate Members.