The impacts of Covid-19 will be felt in many different ways for many years to come, but perhaps nowhere more so than the labour market. Earlier this year, the Federal Government announced reduced higher education fees for courses in health care, science and technology, education and construction, industries that are expected to make up 62 per cent of total employment growth over the next five years. “Universities must teach Australians the skills needed to succeed in the jobs of th
of the future,” the Minister for Education Dan Tehan said in a speech in June 2020. “We are putting more funding into the system in a way that encourages people to study in areas of expected employment growth.” For instance, students who study teaching, nursing, clinical psychology, English and languages will pay 46 per cent less for their degree, and students who study science, health, architecture, environmental science, IT, and engineering will pay 20 per cent less for their degree. But what about retail? The closure of bricks-and-mortar stores during the pandemic resulted in significant job losses in the retail sector and the demise of many well-known brands. At the same time, we have witnessed what can only be described as a “boom” in online shopping, as consumers chose to shop from the comfort and safety of their own home and have goods delivered directly to their door – in most cases through contactless deliveries. As our shopping habits have changed, we are now seeing very clear indications as to where retail careers will be focused in the years ahead. Here are my top six careers for 2021: IT/AI professionals Qualified and highly educated IT professionals will be in high demand, especially in the areas of AI robotics and extended reality, including virtual reality and augmented reality, this year. These technologies enable retailers to bring the convenience of online shopping to bricks-and-mortar stores and in turn bring the interactive experience of bricks-and-mortar shopping to the world of online shopping. I expect to see virtual reality increase, with online stores providing feature-rich and immersive experiences. At the same time, bricks-and-mortar stores will introduce augmented reality to allow consumers to access information about their products. Retailers are already using technical solutions to enable customers to virtually try on clothing and makeup, and these advances in technology are hugely beneficial to both retailers and consumers. 2. Personal stylists/shoppers More and more retailers are engaging the services of personal stylists and shoppers, and we will see this trend continue – on a more personal level – both offline and online in 2021. Today’s personal stylists and shoppers are now armed with devices that they can use to call up information about customers in retail stores, including their previous purchases, while online, search engines point customers in the direction of new products based on their previous searches. Personalisation sets both online and offline retailers apart from their competitors in this space. 3. Influencers/bloggers It’s no secret that retailers and brands have been using influencers and bloggers to sell directly to customers for several years, and this trend will continue and increase in 2021. Retailers and brands pay influencers and bloggers to share stories, advertisements and links to products with their followers. The price is often determined by the number and quality of the followers an influencer or blogger has. For brands with a tech-driven supply chain, they can effectively cut out the middleman and get direct access to consumers by drop shipping orders via influencers. In turn, this means influencers or bloggers don’t have to carry any stock. This level of diversity enables growth and greater consumer reach for brands. 4.Web/graphic designers Demand for graphic designers, particularly those with web and mobile technology expertise, is high in retail, advertising and marketing, and going forward, we will see more graphic designers choosing to skill up in these areas. As brands look to seamlessly integrate customers’ digital and physical experiences, graphic designers must be able to engage and tell the brand story through compelling digital imagery. Graphic designers in retail may perform a wide variety of duties, such as designing prints in product collections, ads, store displays, websites, or other displays. Here is a list of some of the roles within retail for graphic designers: Advertising art directorConcept artistCreative directorGraphic designerIllustrator 5. Operations managers An operations manager is a pivotal role in retail requiring agility and the ability to different strategies, especially given the number of unknowns in the industry right now. The variables we have seen in 2020 will continue into 2021 and beyond as businesses navigate the unknown. Top-line revenue and budget management are critical factors in a business’ success, and operations managers play a vital role in this. As businesses ebb and flow, we will see a rise in the demand for experienced operations managers who are visionary and can maximise opportunities with positivity and innovation. 6. Logistics/transport With the rise of online shopping, the transportation industry has been under enormous pressure to manage and maintain deliveries and come up with new, contactless delivery methods. This is the way of the future, and most retailers have either already adopted contactless delivery, or are in the process of doing so. Many businesses have funneled additional resources into fulfilment to manage this boom, providing another new career option. In this space, it’s all about efficiency, which is why I suggest looking into blockchain, logistics, airborne drones and digital supply chains. Whist these may not be entirely ‘new’ careers in retail – they are the ones that will be in high demand.