Skills4Retail Needs Assessment for the Triple Transition

The Skills4Retail team is excited to share a progress milestone, publishing foundational research in a comprehensive Occupational Profiles and Needs Analysis.  

This enlightening research has unlocked valuable insights, and the findings will be pivotal in shaping a transformative project that addresses the digital training needs of retailers across Europe.  

Our analysis provides a clear pathway to empower retailers to embrace digital transformation, sustainability, and resilience, aligning perfectly with the goals of the Skills4Retail project — to design a new Retail Skills Strategy and VET Training Programme to address urgent and emerging skills needs of retailers in these key areas. 


Methodology and wide range of personas 

We used a multifaceted research methodology to lay the groundwork for the research, and analysing the effects of the Triple Transition (Digital, Green, and Resilience) on skills, talent and training in the retail sector. Our approach included strategic consultations, secondary research and primary research, which involved surveys and interviews with retailers and vocational education and training (VET) institutions across nine EU countries.  

The needs analysis covers a diverse range of personas, including students, shop assistants, store managers, warehouse workers and learning and development managers. By understanding the specific needs and challenges of these personas, we ensured that our findings would be relevant and actionable across various roles and levels within the retail industry all over Europe. 

Aligning methodology and findings with project goals 

The methodology and findings of our research align seamlessly with the goals of the Skills4Retail project. Our primary objectives were to identify the existing needs in current retail occupational profiles and to determine the types of training that the European retail sector workforce requires.  

We identified five core themes: Digital, Green, Resilience, ‘Learn how to learn’ and Basic core retail skills. These themes are foundational to developing a new Retail Skills Strategy and VET Training Programme that addresses urgent and emerging skills needs. 

Our research revealed the most critical training needs for retailers across Europe, categorised into common needs and more specific needs. For example, digital literacy is essential for almost all staff, while more advanced digital skills like eCommerce management are critical for specific roles such as e-commerce managers and middle managers in small retailers. Similarly, sustainability awareness and best practices are vital for all staff, whereas management training in sustainability is crucial for business leaders and sustainability managers. 

Needs Assessment for Retail

Key training needs for retailers across Europe 

Based on our findings, the key training needs for retailers across Europe are: 

  1. Digital skills: Digital literacy, GenAI, eCommerce, advanced digital skills (data analysis, digital marketing, digital design). 
  2. Core retail skills: Customer-facing skills, self-efficacy, cognitive and management skills. 
  3. Sustainability: Environmental awareness, sustainable resource use, materials and waste management, green technologies. 
  4. Resilience: Adapting to change, wellbeing, building stronger business foundations. 
  5. ‘Learn How to Learn’: Curiosity, willingness to learn, engaging learning and development managers and small business owners. 

Emerging design principles 

To overcome the barriers related to training and ensure a durable and transformative learning journey for retail employees, we propose the following emerging design principles: 

  1. Needs-based content: Co-created with learners, regularly updated with industry partners. 
  2. Flexible delivery: On-demand access, self-directed learning, bite-sized modules, stackable micro-credentials. 
  3. Personalised learning: Tailored learning pathways, recognition of existing knowledge, fully translated and localised content. 
  4. Affordability: Making existing quality courses accessible, blended learning formats. 
  5. Quality assurance: Developed and recognised by industry leaders, formal certification, pan-European recognition. 

Key barriers to training in retail 

Our research identified several key barriers to training in the retail sector: 

  1. Employer barriers: Lack of policies and culture driving training, limited budgets, no recognition for on-the-job learning. 
  2. Employee barriers: Lack of awareness of available training, limited time for training, unclear benefits of training, uncertain career prospects. 

Removing these barriers is crucial to enabling widespread training adoption and ensuring the effectiveness of our proposed design principles. 

Needs Assessment for Retail – Focus on specific profiles 

We focused on specific profiles based on a detailed analysis of both ESCO and WEF occupational profiles. The top 10 occupational profiles identified include shop assistants, store managers, warehouse workers, buyers, merchandisers, eCommerce specialists, supply chain managers, sustainability officers, security managers and corporate training managers. These profiles were selected because they represent the most common, fastest-growing, and most unfilled vacancies, as well as crucial emerging roles within retail. 

Evolving target groups 

As research progresses, we have identified additional personas such as buyers, visual merchandisers, sustainability managers, customer experience experts, data analysts, cybersecurity specialists, and others, for future consideration. This evolving list reflects the dynamic nature of the retail sector, and our need to adapt to a rapidly evolving landscape.   
Download the Complete Occupational Profile & Needs Analysis Report Here


Join us on our next steps 

Our research highlights the critical training needs and barriers within the retail sector, aligning perfectly with the goals of the Skills4Retail project. By addressing these needs, we can empower retailers to embrace digital transformation, sustainability, and resilience, with a transformative international training initiative.  
If you’re interested in joining our journey, find out more about Skills4Retail,  stay up to date with our News & Events and follow us on LinkedIn.

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