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Retailers pounce on retrenched employees

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Recent findings show that the retail sector has the capacity and need to absorb staff on a regular basis, according to entry-level youth employment organisation, Lulaway.

This is despite crippling nationwide unemployment and recent statistics, which reveal that 3,3-million youth aged between 15 and 24 are not in employment, education or training (NEET), and nine million people overall are unemployed.

Jake Willis, CEO of Lulaway, stresses that the logical assumption that there are no available jobs in the economy is incorrect. “Given the drastically high unemployment rate, it’s natural to assume that there are no jobs available for those looking for work. That is actually not the full picture. We have found that there are jobs for the right candidates and, in fact, employers, particularly retailers, are always on the lookout for staff with the required skills and a proven track record.”

This assertion comes as the result of a Lulaway initiative to facilitate placements for former-Stuttaford’s employees. The employees lost their jobs when the giant retailer closed its doors in July after desperate attempts to save the company failed.

Willis says that he was surprised at the overwhelmingly positive response from retailers when asked if they were interested in collaborating with Lulaway to place these people in jobs.

“We embarked on an initiative to assist employees to find new positions at other retailers,” he says. “These staff are capable, experienced and skilled in clothing retail sector. They lost their jobs through no fault of their own, and we realised that they could add real value to other companies.

“As a central player in the entry-level recruitment field, we have a large network of clients. We approached dozens of major clothing retailers to ask for their commitment to employ a portion of the former-Stuttaford’s staff.

“The majority of these employers were immediately willing to interview these people for available positions. They clearly had a business need for more staff and were not managing to source them easily,” he says.

Retailers who have joined the initiative include prominent clothing and retail groups such as Mr Price, H&M, Ackermans, PQ Clothing, Truworths, Sportsman’s Warehouse and Clicks Group.

Willis, a seasoned expert in the entry-level and semi-skilled employment environment, says that this is a striking example of what he has observed countless times over the course of Lulaway’s dealings.

“Employers are always looking to employ skilled and experienced staff. While national unemployment is worrying, retailers still desperately need skilled staff. Certain segments are expanding and store footprints are growing, especially in the low-cost clothing market and amongst international clothing retailers, which have entered the local markets.

“Recruiting and training inexperienced staff is a costly and time-intensive exercise,” Willis says. “High levels of staff turnover combined with high on-boarding costs mean that skilled retail staff are highly sought-after and able to be absorbed into the labour market. Staff with the requisite skills set and experience levels are highly attractive to potential retailers.”