By Daniel Hunter

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have committed to working increasingly closely in an effort to get more people, especially those under 25, into careers in the retail sector.

A formal partnership agreement was launched today by BRC Director General, Helen Dickinson and Employment Minister Esther McVey MP. The launch took place at the Waltham Forrest Job Centre Plus Youth Hub during an information session for young people interested in getting into retail. During the session, the Minister and the BRC made a joint commitment to find all the attendees of the session work experience in the industry within six months — the first formal commitment made under the new agreement.

Commenting on the launch, BRC Director General, Helen Dickinson said: “It has been great to explore with these young people the opportunities that a career in the retail industry can provide. There are a wealth of different roles that need to be undertaken for a retail business to thrive. It was great to talk to them about some of things they could do in the retail industry that they’d never thought about before.

“Too often, when we think about a job in retail we think about a job on the shop floor — but the opportunities available are far more diverse than that. UK retailers are using cutting edge technology to get their products to consumers, so they need people with digital and IT skills to make that happen. There are also roles in areas such as HR, finance, logistics, design and many more. We need to start valuing retail jobs more, if we don’t, too many people will miss out on a rewarding career in an industry employing more people than any other here in the UK.

“This launch has been a great opportunity to share that information with a group of young job seekers. I’m very proud that the first commitment made under the agreement I signed today is to give these young people a taste of what life is like working in our industry. I look forward to working increasingly closely with the Department for Work and Pensions in the future to ensure that we reach more job seekers and let them know about the fantastic opportunities offered by a career in retail.”

Minister for Employment, Esther McVey said: “Listening to the young people here today I was struck by the enthusiasm they have for getting their foot in the door to a fulfilling career in retail and working their way up.

“Youth unemployment is falling and there are lots of opportunities out there for people who want to work hard and get on. This partnership with the British Retail Consortium is another step in the Government’s plan to help young people into work so they can secure their future.”

Head of Resourcing at Sainsbury’s, Mel Worth, joined the information session at the Job Centre Plus today to speak about the opportunities in retail.

Mel said: “Retail is one of the largest and fastest growing employment sectors in the UK and Sainsbury’s is playing its part in this by creating thousands of jobs across the country. This year alone we are creating around 6,000 job opportunities and we work hard to equip people with the skills to develop their careers with us. Our apprenticeship scheme and City & Guilds accredited courses at our network of Food Colleges provides vocational training, including nationally recognised qualifications. Our trainee manager scheme is also very popular with young people who join us after A-levels or GCSEs, as a practical way into a long-term career with us.”

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