Young people attracted to careers in art, culture, entertainment and sport

Wholesale employment shortfall projected

New study reveals lack of interest in industry jobs, but FWD says opportunities exist

The wholesale sector needs to offer a “compelling narrative” to attract more young people to seek a career in the industry according to FWD Chief Executive James Bielby.

Bielby’s rallying cry comes on the back of research by charity Education and Employers that revealed there could be a large shortfall in young employees wanting to work in the retail and wholesale trade when the next generation chooses a career.

The study – called Disconnected: Career aspirations and jobs in the UK – drew on data from the Office of National Statistics and found only 2.6% of young people expressed an interest in working in the trade, versus a requirement of 15.1%.

Instead, teenagers were overwhelmingly gravitating towards careers in art, culture, entertainment and sport.

However, Bielby is confident wholesale companies already offer plenty of scope for career growth and the real issue is making more people realise what’s on offer within the industry.

“People generally aren’t aware of wholesale as a career option so it won’t have the same appeal as entertainment, culture or sport, but those who work in the sector know it offers a rewarding career for young people with a diverse range of skills and interests,” he said.

“Wholesalers needs buyers, sellers and digital technology experts; people with good marketing and communication skills; logistics and account controllers; drivers who can represent their company, and telesales teams with personality. Many roles offer flexibility and autonomy.

“It’s a sector where an individual can make their mark in a short time and develop a career from wherever they start. They can take responsibility early, see their ideas carried forward and move quickly into senior roles in their chosen speciality.”

The knowledge that many youngsters aren’t choosing a career in wholesale is nothing new for many working within the sector and several senior figures have spoken in the past about the need to make wholesale more attractive.

FWD is also working on a number of initiatives to promote wholesale to young people in an attempt to break down those barriers.

“Wholesale needs to offer talented young people a compelling narrative for making a long-term commitment to our sector and that’s why this year FWD is rolling out a scheme to offer work experience to 15-16 year-olds in our members’ premises,” Bielby added.

“For those embarking on a career in wholesale we offer training grants of up to £2,500 a year, and through our Supplier Council we are working with wholesalers and suppliers to see how we can make our sector more visible and more attractive to school leavers and graduates.”

Bielby Careers Education and Employers future FWD James Bielby Office of National Statistics young people