The Indian Retail industry has witnessed a phantom leap in growth and expansion as new players set foot into the marketplace each day. What appeared to be stand-alone brick and mortar stores that ruled consumer buying for more than a century has now had an adept transformation through the advent of online shopping and eCommerce portals.
The explosive rise in the operations and processes surrounding the retail marketplace has attracted more human resources requirements than ever before. While cheap labour may be easy to find, it may not be a good fit for retail stores who need efficiency and skill in the management of inventory, labelling, packaging, QC, billing, delivery and the like.
Having said that, the total consumption expenditure from the retail industry is expected to reach nearly USD 3,600 billion by 2020 from 1,824 billion in 2017. It accounts for over 10 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and around 8 per cent of the employment. India is the world’s fifth-largest global destination in the retail space.
Now that we can decipher the magnitude of the marketplace, and the ample opportunities and challenges prevalent, let us look at 7 reasons why apprenticeships can aid and support retailers in smooth operations while setting up their business to the next level.
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- The workforce in the retail space ought to be a dynamic bunch and have varying responsibilities. From manual labour or technical assistance in electronics, perishables, toiletries or hardware to procurement, assessment, quality control and delivery. Apprentices are the best fit for the retail industry as the finesse in doing the job requires continuous practice and discipline. Apprentices are trained to be deft in skill through constant learning, employing their attentiveness, focus and eye for detail which they have been taught in their apprenticeship programs.
- Apprentices make for great assembly line managers and are remarkable in the upkeep of inventory, labelling, packaging, verification metrics of expiry dates, batch allocation, differential storage and packing of liquid-based commodities, dairies, perishables, toxins etc. Such skills may be taught to any person, but the difference is distinguished. Employees with apprenticeship background are already trained with such skills through their hands-on training sessions and industry visits during their apprenticeship program to better serve the retail space.
- Nothing short of premium work is to be expected from apprentices as they possess hands-on experience even before they are graduated. Investment in training and guidance can be halved if retailers employ apprentices. With a little supervision and training for higher and complex processes, the apprentices will prove to be an invaluable asset to the organization with their commitment and acquired knowledge on trends, patterns and even customer buying behavior. Employees who are hired as apprentices directly from their apprenticeship program are more likely to serve in the same organization for 3+ years, and they can even be taken in with a contract stating the same. In the face of increased attrition rates due to job-hopping among retail workers, HR managers need not be worried if they hire apprentices.
- Mystery shopping is the phenomenon through which a person is sent into a retail outlet to assess and evaluate the quality of customer service. This is a popular method through which organizations learn the real-time challenges in customer service while receiving verified and non-damaging feedback from their own personnel. Apprentices who work in managerial positions in a store are ideal choices for mystery shoppers. To effectively evaluate the customer experience across retail outlets of the same brand in the same neighborhood or even nationwide, assigning store managers to make an assessment with their checklist will help discover the concerns faced by stores in customer service experience.
- There is a common misconception, especially among Indians, that students choose apprenticeship programs as they could not make the cut in mainstream academic programs. Apprentices have an early idea of what they want to become and are quite smart in pursuing that stream via apprenticeship. They have proven to be irreplaceable assets to organizations in the long-run. With specialized apprenticeships programs that offer qualifications in specific areas like Retail Skills, Retail Knowledge, Sales, Visual Merchandising and Retail Management, it would be the loss of retailers to not choose all their staff members as apprentices as they are literally carved out for the retail sector.
- Apprentices have a lot more potential than retail organisations choose to believe. The mindset shift among recruiters and business owners in the need of the hour. Some of the world-renowned personalities in food retail, law, fashion retail, sports and business started as apprentices such as David Beckham, Alaxander McQueen, Sir Ian McKellan and Jamie Oliver.
- In the global scale, apprenticeship programs have proven successful and viable for both employers and apprentices. Owing to the increased benefits by way of government subsidy, less to no training requirements, lower wages and work-opportunities while learning, many huge retail corporations such as Walmart and CVS directly recruit from apprenticeship programs like how college placements work here in India.
- The Talent Managers for India (TMI Group) have been a torch-bearer to promoting brands and organisations into hiring from apprenticeship programs. They have a track record of solving human capital challenges of 400 clients in 14 verticals while employing tens of thousands of apprentices in leading retail and other sectors. With certain policy changes, you too can make the apprenticeship scheme work in your organization and tap maximum advantages.
There is more evidence and news-materials to not just suggest, but indicate that apprenticeship programs are a big boon to industries of all degrees. Especially in the arena of retail in India, it is projected that by 2021 traditional retail will hold a major share of 75 per cent, organised retail share will reach 18 per cent and e-commerce retail share will reach 7 per cent of the total retail market. The long-term outlook for the industry is positive, supported by rising incomes, favourable demographics, entry of foreign players, and increasing urbanisation. If your organisation was skeptical to venture into the world of apprentices, skilled training, youth employability, there are enough reasons for you to see the opportunities among apprentices and it is high time you did.