NRA Predicts Australia’s Retail Market Will Lose 50,000 Jobs

With the Online Shopping Boom Already Impacting the Retail Industry, HireMeUp Says It’s Time for Job Seekers and Employers Alike to Adapt

The latest survey from the Australian Retailer’s Association has confirmed what we’ve already suspected – job availability in the retail sector is being affected by the public move towards online shopping.

According to the National Retail Association, Australia will lose 50,000 jobs over the next 5 years because of the rapid growth of online shopping – and NRA Secretary Gary Black says this number is “very conservative.”

With this major blow to the retail sector, the two biggest groups to feel the impact will be students and working mums. NRA secretary Gary Black pointed out that many school kids get their work experience start in retail and that the retail sector has, in the past, been hugely responsible for giving work opportunities to mums and dads who need flexible positions.

And the impact is already being felt according to HireMeUp’s Allison Baker. “A very large percentage of our registered job seekers are parents looking for school-hour jobs and our challenge is to provide enough job ads to match the number of HireMeUp users looking for work.”

HireMeUp.com.au is a new Aussie job site specifically geared toward flexible work and workers – and it has certainly hit a nerve.

“In only a few weeks of operation, we’ve been inundated with job seeker registrations,” Ms. Baker said. “And, no surprise, the biggest industry of interest is retail because it is historically one of the most flexible sectors. The next biggest sectors are hospitality and office work but, they’re feeling the pinch too.”

Regarding the release of the NRA’s gloomy predictions, Ms. Baker says not to get too depressed.

“Just because retail may lose 50,000 jobs, doesn’t mean those jobs are lost forever. They just might show up in other areas,” Ms. Baker said. “If online shopping booms there will be more need for workers in warehousing, shipping and transport, online marketing, web development and design, and so on.”

So, it’s time to skill up.

“Workers need to be web-savvy these days,” Ms. Baker said. “IT skills and knowledge of Internet marketing gives job seekers an automatic advantage in today’s job market and the demand for such skills are growing in all industries.”

As for part time jobs for students, their slice of the employment pie is also getting smaller. Kids have traditionally looked to retail for their Thursday night/Saturday jobs but with the sector suffering they’re finding it harder and harder to get some job experience and many employers are still hesitant to take on “a first jobber.”

In an effort to encourage more employers to offer more work experience roles, HireMeUp offers free listings for student work experience opportunities.

“If we can help more kids get a foot in the door, it can make a huge difference in their future working lives,” Ms. Baker said. And in the same vein, she’d like to see more employers across all industries embrace more flexibility to attract skilled workers to re-enter the workforce.

“If more companies like Angus and Robertson close and the number of retail roles declines as much as the NRA is predicting, many parents who have traditionally turned to retail for flexible work will either abandon the work force for lack of options or be forced to take on full-time work that their heart’s aren’t into which doesn’t make for the best employees,” Ms. Baker said. “Employers really need to do their part.”

“Shared roles, flexible hours and project work, for instance, can all be great ways to tap into the often ignored market of skilled workers who don’t re-join the working world because full time just doesn’t work for them,” Ms. Baker said. “There are a number of proven benefits of flexible hiring practices such as improved productivity, fewer absences, and improved staff morale and motivation that should encourage more employers to drop their rigid 9-to-5 only mentality.

So, it’s a stand-off. There are skilled workers who would work, if only employers would offer flexible work options. But employers are reluctant to bend.

“Change is inevitable,” Ms. Baker said. “The surge in online shopping will affect more than just the retail industry and we all – job seekers and employers – must learn to adapt to the change.”

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