15 November 2017
All the big grocery retailers will be the Harper Adams University Graduate and Placement fair next week. But why, when the industry is shedding so many jobs and going through so much change, would I point Harper undergraduates in their direction?
Lecturing in retail means that I spend a lot of time explaining what businesses are doing and why. “It’s an industry under pressure… coping with increased competition, rising expenses and changing consumer preferences… cutting costs, closing unprofitable shops, driving productivity.” In a university with such a strong agricultural heritage, I also remind students – well anyone that will listen, actually – that it’s not just producers who are experiencing pressure in the food supply chain.
The ONS reported that employment in retail fell by 62,000 last year. That figure will include BHS losses but not plans announced this year by Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, M&S and others. The BRC report the steepest decline in retail hours since 2008.
But, undergrads, “GO AND SPEAK TO THE GROCERS!” Despite these job losses, they will offer a great way to start your career. Their graduate schemes pay well (as much as £44k by Aldi but this is exceptional), they are meritocratic (talented young people can progress fast and far), and they are multi-disciplinary meaning you can certainly find an outlet for your individual strengths.
Big businesses under pressure need the best talent they can find.
And one of the reasons they are at your careers fair is that, with employment experience from your placement year, Harper Adams Graduates already have a head start in the race for the best jobs.
Good luck... and go and speak to the grocers!