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Is Retail the new 'it' career path?

Connect Plus Retail Career Map


We were at Paula Bennett’s Tourism talk last week in Hawke’s Bay and a member of the audience asked an interesting question “how can we (hospitality) attract good employee’s”.  A good question and one that the Tourism and Hospitality sectors need to consider if we as a country are going to continue to grow our growing Tourism industry.  It also made me realise that while Retail could still ask the same question, we have come a long way thanks to the championing of Retail by Stephen Tindall. 

If you google “why don’t people see retail as a career” you will get articles on why people hate their holiday retail job. What you don’t see is that for everyone who has started their career on the shop floor, there is someone running the buying division of national retail chain, a supply chain manager, a national retail manager and many CEO’s of large corporations. In McDonald’s alone 40% of the executives started work at the coalface as hourly workers.   

So we did some more research and found a US research project which surveyed young adults ages 18-24 and found:

A quarter of young adults feel working for a company whose mission and values match their own is one of the most important characteristics when evaluating a career opportunity. About one in five place importance on a company who gives back to their community, and nearly as many value a company with environmentally-responsible practices.

When considering a job opportunity, nearly half are most interested in work/life balance, and many want a job with opportunities for growth and to quickly move up the ladder.  Not only that, but according to the survey, these young adults don’t want to “wait their turn” to make an impact: 40% want their opinions heard, nearly a third want their decisions implemented, and 1 in 4 want the opportunity to own and manage projects – all in their very first job.

Sounds like Retail to us!

A few years ago we asked two graduates and one school leaver similar questions and these can be found in their blog posts: The Importance of People in Retail: Taylar Hannah - Lucy

So back to the US, following the research project a campaign “This is Retail” was launched. 

The “This is Retail” campaign brings together industry advocates from established and emerging retail brands to share their career, community or innovation stories in the public arena, challenging many of the misperceptions that exist about the retail industry and its employees. This national effort and its tagline have become a platform for retail employees across the nation and the cornerstone of National Retail Federation advocacy efforts. These personal stories reach a wide audience and are consistently covered by national, state and local media across the country.

Massey, The Warehouse, Farmers and Foodstuffs are all key stakeholders in driving the changing face of the New Zealand retail training and the perception of retail as a career. But In New Zealand 97% of businesses are SME’s. But where is the SME voice in the retail discussion? 

What is interesting to see in the US that as an extension of “This is Retail”, the Retail Across America series brings together retailers, universities and students pursuing careers in the industry with state retail associations, legislators and opinion leaders. By the end of 2016, the series will include partnerships with almost 300 retail companies, 21 state retail associations and interviews with a number of local government authority.  Can the NZ model look to incorporate this side of the “This is Retail” campaign to be more inclusive of regional New Zealand and the SME retailer. 

We love what Massey and retailers such as The Warehouse, Farmers and Foodstuffs have achieved to date with slowly starting to change the perceptions in the retail sector but would love to see a focus on the SME retailers as we believe changing the perception at the ground level will lead to a fundamental change in retail in New Zealand.  We would love to hear your thoughts on why Retail is still considered a short term option until you get a “real job”?

If you are in retail and want to take your retail experience to the next level contact the team at Connect Plus for a free succession planning discovery session.

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