Retail businesses face a struggle to find skilled managers

The latest insight report from People 1st shows that around 13 per cent percent of retail businesses have vacancies for managerial positions with 32 per cent of these considered hard to fill. To make matters worse, the range of skills and attributes that retail businesses need their managers to possess continues to expand.

People 1st’s executive director,Martin-Christian Kent, commented: “We predict the industry will need 60,000 more managers by 2020. Finding these people is going to be really challenging if retail employers don’t think differently about how they recruit, develop and retain their managers.

“As we highlighted in our previous Insight Report on the current state of skills and employment in the retail sector, the industry is not competing as effectively as other sectors to attract the best talent. Attracting managers is no exception.

“The difficulty in recruiting managers is not new, but with an increase in demand and an expanding skillset the problem is now more acute than ever.”

The retail sector has traditionally filled the vast majority of management positions with internal candidates, but businesses are now increasingly promoting staff earlier than were in the past to account for higher labour turnouver.  Combine this with the report findings that training and experience are the biggest factors influences the management skills gap, with 52 per cent of managers new to their role and 53 per cent having not fully completed their training, it’s clear that education and proper training is crucial for business to ensure their managers are up to the task.

Kent concluded: “At People 1st we believe that increasing attention should be paid to the role of higher education and we also support employers and professional bodies in the sector to create new apprenticeship standards for retail supervisors and managers through the Apprenticeship Trailblazers.”

The new Apprenticeship Trailblazers standards are part of the current apprenticeship reforms in England and aim to increase the robustness of apprenticeships in the sector, while also developing new and exciting career progression opportunities in the industry. To find out more about Apprenticeship Trailblazers visit