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West Midlands

The retail sector in the West Midlands employs 237,854 people, which accounts for nearly 10% of the total retail workforce in England. Between 2001-2005, the West Midlands experienced minimal growth in the total number of retail establishments. Between 2001-2006, there was an increase in the number of small establishments (1-4 employees) and the number of large establishments (200+ employees), but all other size bands have seen decreases.

Key workforce statistics:

  • 42% of the workforce is employed full-time
  • 64% is female
  • Only 39% of managers and senior officials have NVQ level 3 or higher. 27% of this occupational group have a below NVQ level 2 qualification.
  • Staff without a NVQ level 2 accounts for 37% of sales and customer service staff and 52% of elementary occupations. The percentage for elementary occupations includes 27% with no qualifications.

Key vacancies statistics:

  • In the West Midlands, 15% of employers reported to have at least one vacancy, which is the highest percentage of all nine regions.
  • Of the retail businesses in the West Midlands reporting hard-to-fill vacancies, 39% are for sales and customer service, 18% managerial and 4% elementary occupations.
  • The number of employers reporting hard-to-fill vacancies in the skilled trade roles is 13% above the national average.
  • Of the companies in the West Midlands reporting skill-shortage vacancies, 33% stated they had vacancies in sales and customer service, 28% managerial and 22% skilled trades roles.
  • The proportion of employers in the West Midlands reporting sales and customer service vacancies was 22% lower than the English average.
  • Retail employers in West Midlands find technical and practical skills (42%), customer handling (26%) and numeracy (21%) the most difficult skills to find in applicants.

Source: West Midlands Regional Background Brief 2008