Food and grocery sector gets five-step skills plan

IGD boss Joanne Denny-Finch has unveiled a five-step plan to boost food industry skills

Grocery think tank the IGD has unveiled a five-step plan to ensure the food sector has the right skills to meet future challenges.

The five-point plan for food and grocery businesses included: building the reputation of retailing as a career, recruiting more change managers, investing in developing people, empowering people on the frontline and capitalising on the inbuilt skills of the next generation.

Ensuring businesses have the right people with the right mix of skills will be critical as the food and grocery industry continues to undergo dramatic change, said IGD chief executive Joanne Denney-Finch.

Greater automation of jobs in food and grocery and throughout the economy will open opportunities for new, higher skilled jobs, she told delegates at recent Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute International Retail Summit in Switzerland.

Critical skills

The critical skills needed for tomorrow’s food and grocery industry included: digital, food science, design and display, product knowledge, data analysis, communications, supply chain and cost control.

Step one on the list was to build the reputation of retailing as a career. “Retailing needs to raise its reputation as a dynamic and attractive career,” said the IGD boss.

While companies can do good work in isolation, much more could be achieved by working together.

Step two was to recruit more change managers. “For a high-performing team it’s about getting the right mix – analysts to spot the trends, creative people to find new solutions, project managers to push through change and plenty of practical, flexible people to keep the business running smoothly day to day.”

‘This can be a trap’

Step three was to invest in developing people. It was always tempting to make training next year’s priority rather than this year’s. “But this can be a trap,” she warned.

“If you don’t invest in skills this year, then next year’s issues will be even bigger and more urgent. In particular, thinking in departmental silos is dangerous during times of change. Everyone needs to understand how their role can contribute to the company strategy and to understand enough about the contribution of others to work effectively as a team.”

Five-step skills plan
  1. Build reputation of retailing as career
  2. Recruit more change managers
  3. Invest in developing people
  4. Empower people on the frontline
  5. Capitalise on skills of next generation

Step four was to empower people on the frontline to meet the challenges set by more spontaneous shoppers and new competitors. “Over-centralised companies will find they are constantly being outmanoeuvred,” said the IGD boss.

“Agility is the new watchword in business. You need to trust your people on the frontline to make rapid decisions, but you also need to train them so they can operate within guidelines and feel confident to make the right decision.”

Step five was to capitalise on the skills of the next generation. Multi-tasking came naturally to young people who who had grown up with social media, such as Facebook and Twitter. They were used to finding new ways to do jobs faster or more effectively.

Meanwhile, for the latest jobs in food and drink manufacturing, visit FoodManJobs.

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