The industry is now undergoing a transformation more profound and far-reaching than any that has gone before. At the centre of the change sits a technological revolution that has fundamentally altered how we shop, the way retail businesses work and the skills that retailers are nurturing for the future. Today, 100,000 people are employed in retail jobs that did not even exist five years ago and about 15 per cent of sales are online, growing at 10 to 15 per cent a year.

The Better Jobs (Previously Retail 2020) Dashboard

As the structure of the industry continues to change, the Better Jobs Dashboard is providing a reliable way of tracking how the industry is responding to structural changes.

Better Jobs Objectives

  • Engagement: a workforce that is more motivated and more able to fulfil their potential.
  • Pay: a closing of the gap between retail and the UK average.
  • Productivity: increase in retail workforce productivity.

Click here to see how the dashboard is measured.


Beyond our long-term goal to deliver the industry’s vision for better jobs in retail, we are also focusing in the shorter term on achieving greater flexibility in the use of the Apprenticeship Levy.

Retailers are committed to investing in the skills of their workforces. Before the introduction of the apprenticeship levy, the industry invested £5.1bn per annum on training and development, the third highest amount invested by any industry.

Apprenticeship starts in retail and commercial enterprise account for around 20% of all starts over the past decade.

However, apprenticeships are only one part of the solution for retail. We welcome the recent announcement from the Chancellor for £100 million for a National Retraining Scheme and want to work with Government to ensure employers can draw down funds to pay for different types of training suitable for their workforce. The Government’s commitment to engage with industry on the future and flexibility of the levy is also welcome and we will work closely with Ministers to ensure that it works better for retailers.

Skills development is critical to support retail colleagues as new technology enters the workplace, as well as support those who are at higher risk from the changing nature of work remain active in the labour market. The apprenticeship levy is an opportunity to invest in the right skills for the future of the industry, but one year in it is clear that the levy in its current form is not working. Apprenticeship starts have fallen by 34% in the first three quarters of 2017/18 compared to the previous year. Retail starts over the same period equate to just 45% of the total in 2016/17.

The retail industry’s contribution to the apprenticeship levy is around £160m per annum. Retailers worked hard to prepare for the levy ahead of its introduction, with a number giving up time and resource to help the development of the new trailblazer standards. Despite the significant contribution the industry continues to make, the levy is not delivering for retail.


We've partnered with ITN Productions on ‘The Changing Face of Retail’, a news and current-affairs film that explores how the retail industry is changing.

The film brings to life the huge changes that retail is at the heart of alongside the industry vision of better and more rewarding jobs.

Our series of Better Jobs (previously Retail 2020) reports, available for download from this page, also formed a comprehensive study to establish what this transformation will look like, including an assessment of likely impacts on our local communities and on employment.

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