A freshly-published report by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) has recommended that retailers find ways to attract digital-savvy graduates and workers in order to boost productivity within this sector.

Wholesale and retail has recently been identified by the Government as being one of five sectors in the UK with a productivity shortfall.

In the UKCES report entitled Sector Insights: Skills and Performance Challenges in the Retail Sector, recruiting technically skilled people and upskilling the retail workforce is cited as being crucial in taking full advantage of an increasingly digital-orientated landscape.

Dr Vicki Belt, Assistant Director at UKCES, said:

“The wholesale and retail sector is the largest sector in the UK economy by employment, but sector productivity is relatively low.

“There is scope to improve productivity by making full use of existing talent and ensuring that workers have the opportunity to build their skills and experience, and progress within the sector.”

Retailers must provide better career routes for ambitious graduates

Around 12% of retail sales currently come from online shopping and this figure is expected to continue rising.

But an estimated one in five retail businesses are faced with skills gaps preventing them from reaching their digital potential.

The report says the retail sector needs to create and promote higher-level retail careers to attract the ambitious undergraduates and graduates with technology-based skills.

Customer service is another area of the retail sector where improvements have been deemed necessary.

At least half of the UK’s 3.1 million retail employees are in customer services, however recruiters said finding staff with adequate customer handling skills is difficult.

It was also recommended that older workers need to be made better informed about rapid changes in technology within the sector through training and development programmes.