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Retail and wholesale need skills for the modern age

01 December 2016
by EuroCommerce -- last modified 01 December 2016

Marking the launch of the EU Digital Skills and Jobs Coalition in Brussels today, EuroCommerce underlined its strong support for the initiative to encourage greater awareness and uptake of digital skills in the workforce, industry and the general population.


Retail and wholesale are undergoing a rapid and radical transformation as a result of digital technology, and the changes it has brought about in how, where and when consumers buy products.  This has led to a blurring of the divisions between online and offline sales. Consumers expect what they order to be immediately available, and delivered immediately. This means a need for new skills and flexibility in the retail and wholesale workforce.

Speaking today, Christian Verschueren, Director-General of EuroCommerce said:

"Retailers and wholesalers need to react to constantly and rapidly changing consumer buying habits and expectations. To do so, they need to draw on skilled workers able to adapt to new technologies and be deployable in new activities.  Promoting digital skills  will help our companies meet these challenges, and help employees in being able to adjust with the business. Retail and wholesale is rising to this challenge: among the many initiatives being taken by companies and federations across Europe,  our Portuguese member CCP is financing the training of 20,000 people in ICT skills; Our German member HDE created a new qualification of  'e-commerce merchant' to attract young professionals to the sector, which overall takes on some 65,000 new apprentices every year. We will be supporting the Commission initiative strongly, and looking to involve our sector closely in its activities and the new pledge it proposes".

There will most probably be fewer of the lower-skilled jobs the sector at present offers, but a need for more people able to master the technology, whether for a webshop, for a supermarket chain, or for a traditional family store. EuroCommerce is engaged with its social partner UNI-Europa in the sectoral skills councils at EU and national level. Its companies and associations are also working hard with schools and universities and inside their companies to equip their present and future employees to meet the challenges which the new technology is bringing with it.

EuroCommerce is the principal European organisation representing the retail and wholesale sector. It embraces national associations in 31 countries and 5.4 million companies, both leading multinational retailers such as Carrefour, Ikea, Metro and Tesco and many small family operations. Retail and wholesale provide a link between producers and 500 million European consumers over a billion times a day. It generates 1 in 7 jobs, providing a varied career for 29 million Europeans, many of them young people. It also supports millions of further jobs throughout the supply chain, from small local suppliers to international businesses. EuroCommerce is the recognised European social partner for the retail and wholesale sector.

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