How the retail industry can help reduce unemployment

25th November 2019 - Business & Marketing
How the retail industry can help reduce unemployment

Unemployment is not desirable for the public or the government. For the public, it’s an issue of instable income and struggling to make ends meet. For the government, a reduced disposable income for those on jobseeker’s allowance impacts he overall economy negatively. As 2019 brings more high street closures, retail workers are dealing with the ever-increasing threat of unemployment. But what can the retail sector do to combat this?

Employees with disabilities

For many, being unable to work is due to a disability. In order to reduce the amount of people who are out of work down to a disability, The Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work launched a campaign in 2018 which retailers can voluntarily opt in to. It is called the “Disability Confident” employer scheme which provides employers with the skills, examples and confidence to recruit and develop disabled employees. The government aims to see one million more disabled people in work by 2027 and this is a great opportunity for retailers who are doing well in the industry to expand their workforce. By looking at the Disability Confident list of employers that have signed up, we can see that branches of big names such as Asda, Barclays, and B&M Bargains are all committed.

Diverse workforces

A lack of diversity in the workforce is another common issue faced by many companies. In 2017 it was reported that retail companies in the FTSE 100 are ahead of other industries when it comes to gender diversity. Retailers should focus on broadening their selection process when it comes to the recruitment process. This can ensure that those who’ve lost a job in a retail position face equal opportunity when it comes to finding a new role.

It’s important to hire people from all walks of life in order to improve not only the workforce but the workplace too. Ultimately, when a workforce is representative of a customer base, it can lead to a better understanding of the target market and an improvement in business performance.

Partnering up with charities

Pairing up with charities who help individuals who struggle to find work is also a huge step in the right direction. Partnering with a disabled or mental health charity for example can help you reach those who are out of work because of a disability or health issue and encourage them to apply.

CT Shirts, retailer of classic men’s shirts is a perfect example. This company has a long-standing partnership with the Prince’s Trust which involves fundraising and a mutually beneficial relationship. This charity works closely with vulnerable young people who need a helping hand to get their lives back on track. Like many retailers that The Trust works with, CT Shirts took advantage of one of their “Get Hired” days — a day of greetings and interviews with young people who have been through The Prince’s Trust Programmes to get to know some potential employees.

Expanding training opportunities

In-store things might be slow, but online things couldn’t be busier. Therefore, an important consideration to make is whether retail employees should be trained in other areas of the business too. Or at least should their knowledge of the company and its products or services be valued so that their given the opportunity to progress in another area of the business after redundancy?

It is definitely something to consider in the instance of redundancies being considered. Cross-discipline training can also encourage more loyal employees and therefore those who are more invested in the performance of the retail business as a whole.


The threat of unemployment is very real, but it isn’t inevitable. As some companies pave the way, it’s down to other industry players to make big changes too.



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