Do you think of yourself as a ‘people person’, someone who’d enjoy providing information and advice to people looking to buy a product or service? Or, maybe you’d prefer to negotiate with suppliers to get the best deal for your company or employer?
If either option applies then this career area may be a good choice. Whether you are dealing with customers or suppliers you need to have good communication skills, a confident and positive outlook, and the ability to deal with complaints while you are busy.
The buying, selling and related work industry is one of the biggest employers in Scotland. The retail sector alone is Scotland’s largest private sector employer, with 245,000 jobs in 2016, accounting for around 12% of the private sector workforce.
As buying and selling affects most types of business, a wide variety of careers are available in the following areas: buying, call centres and retail and sales.
Of the huge range of companies to work for, possible employers include:
Various factors affecting the retail industry mean that job prospects are still mixed. Rises in business rates and employment costs, such as the rise of the national living wage, has meant that some employers are cutting jobs and closing stores. (There are 7,000 less working in retail in Scotland than last year.) And although increased sales online means less visits to high street stores, it may also mean that career prospects for future retail employees could improve, requiring a new technological based skillset and experience.
There are currently 6,200 call centres in the UK with 770,000 agent positions. After a decline in 2009, the industry has seen a steady growth between 2011-2016, although 2017 saw a decline in the number of operations. However, it is predicted that over the next 4 years, the UK contact centre industry will shed over 45,000 jobs and close 350 call centres due to automated digital channels, self service and the expected effects of Brexit.
There are lots of ways into these jobs. You can start straight from school with few or no qualifications, where you can work your way up to a senior position, such as retail manager. Many employers provide the opportunity to work towards vocational qualifications on the job to help with promotion. There are Modern Apprenticeship frameworks for both retail and procurement.
You can find out more about retail in Scotland on the Scottish Retail Consortium website.