Retail certification improves image for industry

The Retail Council of Canada (RCC) has had to do a lot of “missionary work,” in the last couple of years, said Diane Brisebois, president and CEO of the association.

There is a stigma attached to the retail sector and too many people underestimate the career opportunities, she said. At a time when good human capital management will increasingly play a role in organizational success, it is important to remove that stigma. There are very good career opportunities but employers also need to do more.

“If we are going to do this seriously, those who are going to win are going to put their money where their mouth is,” said Brisebois. If they introduce more flexibility and better reward and recognition programs they will find themselves reducing turnover and improving employee morale. The entire industry also needs to raise the level of training and development if it wants to convince people that retail careers aren’t that different than careers in other sectors.

For its part the RCC has been instrumental in the creation of a national retail certification program.

In June, the first class graduated from the retail sales associate certificate program and later this year the first level manager program will begin.

On its Web site,, the RCC, explains the impetus behind creating the certification programs and the benefits for both employees and employers.

The RCC, sees the certification program as a priority because it will help improve the career image and mobility of the workforce. In addition the program provides an incentive to acquire improved skills because career paths can be defined. Essentially, certification will help improve the knowledge and skill levels and the self-esteem of individuals and the image of the retail industry. The program benefits employers by:

•reducing turnover by retaining a more talented staff;

•creating a positive and professional work environment;

•creating consistency among all employees;

•helping identify those employees who want to succeed and advance;

•making the company more attractive to those seeking career employment;

•allowing for nationally transferable skills;

•allowing for cost-effective training; and

•providing for recognition of employees who successfully complete the course.

The program benefits employees by:

•allowing them to gain the knowledge and skills the retail industry needs;

•obtaining recognition for their achievement;

•getting satisfaction from gaining a professional approach to their work;

•making them aware that there is a link between national certification and a career in retailing;

•providing a building block for those who wish to advance in their retail careers; and

•giving them skills that are transferable across the country.

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