John Lewis and Tesco join scheme to help part-time workers advance their careers

12-month pilot scheme run by Timewise aims to identify the constraints on working part-time in senior roles and come up with ways to overcome them

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The Independent Online

A group of high-street retailers is signing up to a scheme that intends to help “trapped” part-time workers climb the career ladder.

Retailers B&Q, COOK, Dixons Carphone, Tesco and The John Lewis Partnership – who collectively employ over 455,000 people – have committed to partnering with consultancy Timewise in a scheme designed to “unblock" career progression for part-time employees in the industry and encourage greater flexible working opportunities in managerial jobs.

The 12-month pilot scheme run by Timewise aims to identify the constraints on working part-time in senior roles and come up with ways to overcome those constraints.

The retail industry – the UK’s largest private sector employer – employs an estimated 1.5 million people in roles that pay at or just above the national minimum wage, and the majority in the sector work part-time. But according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC), a  lack of part time opportunities in senior roles within the industry is “trapping” thousands of skilled workers from progressing and obtaining pay rises.

Research from the BRC also found that over half of retail workers believe they are less likely to get promoted if they work part-time, and two thirds would want a managerial job if they could maintain a flexible or part-time working pattern.

Emma Stewart, joint-chief executive officer of Timewise, said flexibility in working hours is one of the most important reasons why people choose to work in retail.

“With a post-Brexit labour market in sight, jobs designed with their people in mind, is what will create a win-win situation for UK retailers – from being able to attract the best possible people, maximising the skills of their existing talent, ensuring career progression, and addressing challenges such as low productivity,” she said.

Helen Dickinson, chief executive at BRC said: “As the largest private sector employer in the UK with three million people working across retail and wholesale, the pay and progression of our staff is incredibly important to us. 

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