What are the standards for career stability

Stable job prospects in retail, but new requirements

If you shop in Seattle, you can do so without ever standing in line at the cash desk. In the online retailer's Amazon-Go supermarket, cameras, sensors and artificial intelligence monitor which products the customers take, and the amount is automatically deducted from the bank account. Sweden has also had a supermarket without cash registers since 2016. Personnel are only needed there to fill the shelves.

In Austria these are currently more of a future than a reality. However, brick-and-mortar retail has faced great competition from online retailers. According to the current study "Trade in Numbers" by the trade association, online trade is growing ten times as fast as stationary. In 2017 alone, over 105 million parcels were delivered in this country. A Statista survey shows that over 60 percent of Austrians order online. And according to a study published by PWC in May, robots could take on more than a third of retail jobs in Austria by the mid-2030s.

Largest economic sector

So what are the job prospects when online trading and self-service checkouts are on the rise? At present, trade is the largest economic sector in terms of number of companies and turnover. And the second largest employer with 588,000 employees, most of them in retail. This is particularly characterized by high fluctuation. According to the labor market service's qualification barometer, 19 percent of commercial employees work for a company for less than a year. On the one hand, this can be due to the fact that many see trade as a transitional activity, on the other hand, it can also be due to the physical and psychological stress.

"It's coming and going, which is why jobs are constantly being advertised," says Emanuel Van den Nest, trade expert at the Institute for Economic Research. 70 percent of the employees are female and 47 percent are part-time. It is difficult to get a full-time job at all, says Van den Nest.

Relatively stable job prospects

According to the expert, this situation will hardly change in the future. The stationary trade is currently recording a slight increase in the number of people in employment, the job prospects are "relatively stable". But the "great profits will not be made there in the future", many small and medium-sized companies will probably have to give way to large chains in the future. Unsurprisingly, there will be a need in online retailing in the future.

One answer to this is the new apprenticeship as an e-commerce merchant, which is expected to be offered from autumn. In general, the retail trade is one of the most important apprenticeship trainers, the profession of retail clerk is chosen most frequently by girls, shows the apprenticeship statistics of the Chamber of Commerce. Even career changers can gain a foothold in retail, for many positions there are no or hardly any requirements, you learn on the job.

Nevertheless, Van den Nest recognizes the trend towards higher qualifications here too: "Particularly at the lower management level, such as a branch manager, good general knowledge and a high school diploma are sometimes required". And people in the specialist trade should have specific training anyway. With digitization, new activities arise, especially for office jobs in retail, university graduates are in demand. Not only with a business degree, but also a product developer or computer scientist for data analysis in online shops. Despite the trend towards online trading, expert Van den Nest is convinced that stationary retail "will not die out immediately and will have many jobs to be filled in the next few years". (Selina Thaler, Der Standard, July 21, 2018)