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Editorial Articles


Issue no - 50, 24-30 April 2021

 

ENHANCING EMPLOYABILITY IN THE RETAIL SECTOR

James A. Raphael

Retail sector in India is the one of the more prominent sectors contributing to over 10% of GDP besides being the 2nd largest contributing to over 8% of employment generated in the country. Although the retail sector in India is highly fragmented into large, organized retailers and small - medium retailers, it employs a vast workforce of more than 40 million people. According to a report by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) & Kearney, a cohesive National Retail Policy can help in generating more than 3 million jobs by the year 2024. Retail is a peopleintensive industry that is greatly driven by the attitudes of customers, thus, most companies seek to develop skilled human resource as other resources can be replicated or standardized in today's competitive market, ensuring that the demand for skilled manpower remains strong in the industry.

Over the past decade, a steady growth in retail which is set to cross the $1.75 trillion mark by 2026 from $795 billion in 2017 and E-commerce which is set to be worth $200 bn by 2026 from $30 billion in 2019 at 30% CAGR sectors has opened a huge gateway for employment opportunities for youth as consumption of retail goods and services is projected to increase in the years to come. The COVID pandemic imposed a prolonged lockdown in the country affecting the sector. However, as restrictions imposed by the Government have been lifted, the industry is set to recover transitioning millions of workforce for sales, logistics and customer support functions to meet the steady rise in consumer demand. Thus, nurturing employee talent will play a pivotal role in optimizing workforce, ensuring long-term growth and sustainability.

It is in this context Retailers Association's Skill Council of India (RASCI), the apex skill development council of retail, has facilitated the creation of a skill ecosystem for the retail sector advocating various government skilling initiatives for the benefit of key stakeholders such as learners, industry, academic institutions, training partners, central & state ministries etc. Aligned with the Skill India Mission of Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE), the RASCI has taken progressive steps to bring together Industry (Demand Side), Institute (skilling touch points) and youth (supply side) to create pool of relevantly skilled and employable/self - employed workforce. We have accomplished this by creating Standards for Curriculums, Assessment and Certification of Trainers/ Assessors/ Learners, Vocational Training & Vocational Education at Secondary and Higher Secondary Levels for the retail sector aligned with National Skills Qualifications Framework (NSQF).

Today, retailers are adopting a multipronged online-offline sales approach seeking professionals who are digital savvy, display a good attitude and work ethic. Thus it is essential for candidates aspiring to make a career in this sector to up-skill, e-skill, re-skill and develop their competencies to ensure career growth and progression in the long run.

The sector can be broadly classified in 4 sub-sectors namely Modern/ Traditional Retail, E-commerce/ Online Retailing, Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG)/ Distribution Sales and Direct Selling/ Entrepreneurship. Job roles in these subsectors comprise of specific designated responsibilities which form the basic Key Performance Areas (KPAs) that employers expect from candidates. Skilling enables learners to develop technical expertise, communic-ation skills, decision making, planning and organizing and problemsolving. This enables learners to perform all the specific designated responsi-bilities within job profile thereby ultimately leading to progression in your career path.

Similar to fresh skilling, re-skilling plays an essential role in skill development aiding in talent acquisition, development and retention by providing due reward and recognition to existing employees in the organization. Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) scheme is an assessment process that addresses this need by evaluating a person's existing skill sets, knowledge and experience gained either by formal, non-formal or informal learning. This is critically linked to employee performance as employees get due recognition, respect and pride which in turn increases productivity and opens the door for career progression. Often freshers seek to 'earn while they learn'. Apprenticeship provides this opportunity to learners blending theory and practical based “On the Job Training” (OJT) as per the National Occupational Standards for job roles as well get industry exposure of the culture, values of the organization. This approach hones the trainee's skills & knowledge of workplace related codes, safety regulations, procedures, proper use of tools, trouble shooting and team work making them relevantly skilled and competent.

Easing accessibility of internet coupled with high availability of internet enabled devices has led to a rise demand for eskilling. Thus, furthering digital learning in the retail sector, RASCI in collaboration with Skilled India launched an indigenous 'Digital Learning Portal' on LMS platform with a goal of providing standardized, quality online training to professionals & students through e-skilling learning modules and certifications. The Digital Learning Portal offers variety of retail QPNOS aligned online courses, available in Hindi and English languages for trainees to choose their preferred language at the start of the program. Few of the courses to be offered by the portal include : 

·         Retail Store Operations Assistant (RAS/Q0101) 

·         Retail Trainee Associate (RAS/ Q0103) 

·         Retail Sales Associate (RAS/Q0104) 

·         Individual Sales Professional- RPL program (RAS/Q0201) 

·         Distributor Salesman (RAS/Q0604)

 

The RASCI has developed 21 Qualification Packs (QPs) for various retail job roles approved by National Skill Qualifications Committee (NSQC) & Qualification Registration Committee (QRC), endorsed by the Industry. The QPs are graded as per the NSQF Framework catering to school/ college pass-outs and existing professionals aspiring to make a career in any of the retail sub-sectors. Candidates can apply for Short-Term Courses (STT), Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) and Apprenticeship through RASCI website (https://rasci.in/ELearning.php), their respective employers or via the apprenticeship portal (https:// apprentice-shipindia.org/). Front-end job roles such as Trainee Associate, Sales Associate, Distributor Salesman, Individual Sales Professional account for 80% of hiring demand within the four major sub-sectors of retail. However, with the rise of multi-channel and online retailing, job roles such as Digital Cataloguer, Seller Activation Executive, Sales Supervisor are likely to witness demand in future.

In times to come, digitization and automation will continue to evolve and influence retail bringing advancements in retail processes, this will change the defined common norm for skills in the industry. As retail gears for this transition, the requirement of human resource capable of delivering results to tackle challenges is imminent. And so, aspiring candidates and existing retail workforce must hone relevant skills to prepare for a future in retail.

 

(The author is CEO, Retailers Association’s Skill Council of India, e-mail: james.raphael@ rasci.in)

Views expressed are personal.