The pandemic upended labour markets including grocery in 2020, resulting in transformation that will ripple across the economy through 2021, according to new a forecast from HR services firm Randstad Technologies.
“For the grocery sector specifically, the demand for front-line workers remains high, and this is true for pharmacy, bulk stores, and discount stores as well,” said Carolyn Levy, president, Randstad Technologies. “This comes as no surprise given the growth the sector has experienced.”
While much of retail faced closures and other restrictions for large parts of the last year, with uncertainty continuing for months yet, essential retail like grocery remained open for business. However, the pandemic still forced sweeping changes on the industry that had a significant impact on the kinds of workers employers were looking for.
Most obvious was the huge growth in online shopping, both delivery and click-and-collect ordering. “As a direct result, the demand for warehouse workers to assemble those orders, and for delivery drivers to get the product directly to consumers, will remain strong,” said Levy. “The importance of procurement and supply chain specialists—the people making sure the product gets to stores—will remain high.”
And the ongoing need for enhanced safety and cleaning protocols will mean grocery employers will also continue to invest in cleaners and maintenance workers.
The Ranstad forecast for 2021 focused on the fastest growing roles and most in-demand remote working roles. Overall, e-commerce, IT, security and healthcare will be most in demand for the year ahead.
That heightened demand for IT and security roles will also be important for the grocery sector, said Levy. “As more transactions take place online, there will be new and increasing security needs, and innovation in the sector—as online offerings evolve and expand—will require a savvy mix of both marketing and IT skills to differentiate and win market share.”
Away from the stores, Levy said more remote work for office employees in the sector to become a long-term reality.
“Expect corporate offices for grocery and other retail to retain remote work, even after the pandemic subsides,” she said. “Organizations have found employees are productive and employees appreciate the flexibility of remote work.”