ARA to address Australia’s retail skills gap

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has recognised “a critical-skills need” for formal education for entry- to mid-level buyer and merchandise planner roles in Australian retail as a result of the significant changes made to 457 visas.

ARA Executive Director Russell Zimmerman says although the retail sector was not consulted on the changes made to 457 visas, the ARA has formulated a response to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) to reinstate the retail-buyer role to the short-term skills occupations list (STSOL).

“The government reinstated the retail buyer to the STSOL, however the ARA was disappointed that merchandise planners, merchandise designers and digital commerce roles were not added to the list as well,” Mr Zimmerman said.

“Therefore, last year we updated our submission to the department, with contemporary evidence to move the retail buyer from the STSOL, which restricts the holder to a two-year stay, one renewal, and no pathway to permanent residency, to the medium and long-term strategic skills list (MLTSSL), which allows the holder up to a four-year stay, multiple renewals and access to permanent residency.”

In this submission, the ARA also sought to include the merchandise-planner role as a subset of the retail-buyer role to ensure Australian retailers would have access to skilled retail talent in the future.

“After substantial industry consultation to understand the expertise needed to fill these essential roles in modern-day retailing, the ARA has developed a specialised diploma of retail merchandise management,” Mr Zimmerman said.

“This unprecedented qualification embodies tailor-made courses encompassing a range of activities, including concept theory, case-study analysis, practical workshops and hands-on assessments to remediate the current retail-skills gap in Australia.”

“The diploma will be able to supply the Australian retail market with the ever-increasing demand of qualified retail talent, and ensure that the new generation of Australian retail professionals are qualified.”

The ARA’s new diploma is available to ARA members and non-members as an external or in-house workshop.

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