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Workforce Comprehensive Curriculum Study Research Team: Dr. Mike Brady, College of Business Dr. Susan S. Fiorito, College of Human Sciences Alexis Allen,

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Presentation on theme: "Workforce Comprehensive Curriculum Study Research Team: Dr. Mike Brady, College of Business Dr. Susan S. Fiorito, College of Human Sciences Alexis Allen,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Workforce Comprehensive Curriculum Study Research Team: Dr. Mike Brady, College of Business Dr. Susan S. Fiorito, College of Human Sciences Alexis Allen, Ph.D. candidate, COB Cinthia Satornino, Ph.D. candidate, COB

2 Challenge The continued success of the retail industry depends on a qualified workforce. The challenge for universities is to determine what knowledge and skills retailers value and then produce graduates that possess these proficiencies. 2

3 Opportunity The FRF is in a unique position in that it has relationships with both Florida universities and Florida retailers. By facilitating a dialogue between these groups, a general curriculum framework can be developed that addresses current workforce needs and provides the next generation of retail leadership in Florida. 3

4 Purpose Goal:To develop a framework for a retail curriculum that would assist in providing a qualified retail workforce and the next generation of retail leadership in Florida. Objective: Determine the knowledge and skills of successful retailers and use this information to develop a curriculum at a University level to promote, enhance, and develop successful retail leadership. 4

5 Study Process 1.Exploratory Research  Benchmarking  Interviews 2.Pilot Study 3.Online Survey Study 4.Data Analysis 5.Deliverables  Report of Survey Results  General Curriculum Framework 5


7 Phase I: Benchmarking Programs Goal: To examine and assess peer and aspirational retail and merchandising programs throughout the U.S. Methodology: Content analysis of 20 university programs in retailing, merchandising, and product development being offered throughout the U.S. Results: Programs varied by required coursework, specializations/tracks offered, and targeted careers 7

8 Phase I: Benchmarking Jobs Goal: To assess the current employment landscape in the retail industry Methodology: Content analysis of 27 job postings from corporate websites and job posting websites (e.g., Results: Job postings varied by position, hard line/soft line designation, and desired skills 8

9 Phase II: Exploratory Interviews Goal: To determine retail executives’ perceptions of recent college graduates’ strengths and weaknesses, as well as unmet needs of current retail curricula Methodology: 13 in-depth phone interviews with FRF members of varying size and type Results: Six general themes emerged 9

10 Themes from the Exploratory Study 1.Communication skills are critical 2.Need to be able to manage people – they’re not very good at it 3.Classes in accounting and finance are viewed favorably 4.Retail Math is a critical need 5.Internship programs are critical 6.Students are impatient 10

11 Current State of Retail Education Respondents were satisfied with the retailing education of recent college graduates but expressed a desire for more of an integrated, broad-based retail education – “We recruit out of two schools – COB and Merchandising. In both cases, they have background knowledge that is valuable as they grow in their careers. From the B-school, the students have analytical background (statistics, etc.), so they can help build strategy. From merchandising, they have made the decision to get involved with retail. So they are ready to get involved with the realities of retailing.” 11

12 Current State of Retail Education Other, similar sentiments. – “I think the business focus should be more broad so that you’re not limited to merchandising.” – “I think that a finance class more devoted to retailer finances would be beneficial.” – “I want to know that they’ve had some financial coursework … I think that’s necessary for people to move up in the organization.” – “The business/finance/accounting need to have a stronger focus.” 12


14 Preliminary draft was reviewed by FRF representatives and RMPD faculty. – Revisions and comments were addressed and pilot questionnaire was developed Pilot Study: – 200 FRF members were randomly selected using a random number generator for each retailer line type – Survey was sent 10/5 and closed 10/14 A total of 6 responses were received Survey Development 14

15 Revisions were made from the pilot study results. The final survey draft was extensively reviewed by all of the Workforce Council attendees at the October meeting Survey Development 15

16 Main Data Collection Process Surveys were sent to all emailable FRF members (2,556 members) in two waves. A drawing for an iPad 2 was used as an incentive for respondents. 65 responses were received – a 2.54% response rate. First wave sent on 10/25/2011 46 Responses Second wave sent on 10/31/2011 19 Responses 16

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18 FRF Membership by Line Type 18

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22 Respondents by Position Type 22

23 RESULTS Workforce Study 23

24 220 Hires Were Made Within the Last 5 years (roughly one a year) – Store Level Positions: 77  25% Sales  22% Retail Management  20% Store Manager/Asst. Store Manger – Corporate Level Positions: 143  12% Management Trainee  11% Sales  10% Information Technology  10% Finance  9% Human Resources Satisfaction with Hires = 78/100 Respondents Who Hired College Graduates 24

25 Perceptions of Recent College Grads Needs Improvement (M  3) Meets Expectations ( 3 < M < 3.5 ) Verbal/written communication Presentation skills Leadership Team management Project management Product knowledge Entrepreneurship Understand financial statements/financial analysis Unrealistic expectations Willing to “pay dues” Understanding the “big picture” Knowledge of career paths Merchandising 25

26 Perceptions of Recent College Grads Exceeding Expectations (M > 3.5) Technology Skills Innovativeness Multitasking Basic Retail Math 26

27 Skills Ranking Employers often desire a blend of hard and soft skills. On average, the ideal blend of hard and soft skills: Soft Skills vs. Hard Skills 53% vs. 47% Most Important Soft Skills Customer Service Leadership Skills Verbal Communication Most Important Hard Skills Computer Competency Product Knowledge 27

28 Soft Skills Most Important Soft Skills % Ranked in the Top 5/11 Median Ranking Customer Service 78.9%1 Verbal Communication 73.7%2 Leadership 68.4%3 Managing Others 47.4%2.5 Written Communication 42.1%3 Presentation Skills 47.4%4 * Skills are listed in order of a combination of columns 2 & 3 * For rankings: 1 = Most important 28

29 Hard Skills Most Important Hard Skills % Ranked in the Top 5/10 Median Ranking Computer Technology 78.9%2 Product Knowledge 68.4%2 Financial Analysis 44.7%2 Store Merchandising 52.6%3 Retail Math 60.5%4 Forecasting/Trend Analysis 42.1%3.5 Human Resources 26.3%2.5 Project Management 36.8%4 Supply Chain 26.3%4 * Skills are listed in order of a combination of columns 2 & 3 * For rankings: 1 = Most important 29

30 Desired Professional Experience Most Important Experience % Ranked in the Top 5/13 Median Ranking Leadership 68.4%2 Retail Management 65.8%2 Team Management/training 63.2%3 Store Operations 47.4%3 Marketing 26.3%2 Administrative Support 26.3%2 Data analysis/reporting 34.2%3 Merchandising management 44.7%4 Finance/accounting 31.6%3.5 Strategy Implementation 23.7%4 * Experiences are listed in order of a combination of columns 2 & 3 * For rankings: 1 = Most important 30

31 Educational Criteria Specialized Certificates Certificates make job candidates moderately more desirable (M=3.6) Most respondents were unfamiliar with specialized certificates (M=2.6) Most respondents were neutral on whether or not certificates indicate higher skill sets (M=3.1) Internships Internships make job candidates significantly more desirable (M=4.2) Internships provide valuable experiences (M=4.4) More than one internship was slightly favored (M=3.3) *Mean response rate shown in parens. Strongly Disagree = 1; Strongly Agree = 5 31

32 Desired Coursework Most Important Coursework % Ranked in the Top 5/8 Median Ranking Consumer Behavior 78.9%1 Accounting/Finance 76.3%2 Merchandising 71.1%2 Logistics/Supply Chain 55.3%4 Product Development 55.3%4 Other 28.9%3 Sourcing/Global Trade 15.8%4 Textile/Apparel 10.5%4.5 *Other courses include: Communications(3), Computer, Labor Relations, Managing People, Math, POS computer course, Sales, Work Ethic, Writing courses 32


34 Overview of Results by Primary Product Offering Category Several differences emerged across industries at the corporate level: – Services hired relatively more Finance and Human Resources positions – Soft Lines made up the majority of Allocator, Buyer, and Product Development positions – Hard Lines hired primarily for Management Trainee and Sales positions – Food and Beverage hired more at the Management Trainee position than any other position There were far fewer differences at the store level, as all industries hired primarily for management and sales positions. 34

35 Overview of Results by Primary Product Offering Category There was not significant variation across industries in the specific hard and soft skills that were valued by respondents Similarly, there was little variation across industries with regard to desired professional experiences and activities with a few exceptions: – Hard Lines and Food and Beverage valued students’ having more than one internship – Soft Lines placed less emphasis on Marketing than other industries 35

36 Satisfaction and Skill Importance by Primary Product Offering Category ServicesHard LinesSoft Lines Food and Beverage Unreported Satisfaction with Recent Hires 79.5%74.0%74.9%63.3%80.0% Hard Skills Importance 52.0%40.0%44.4%44.3%42.0% Soft Skills Importance 48.0%60.0%55.6%55.7%38.0% 36


38 Conclusion 1: Current programs address textile and product development needs for retailers. To supplement the current supply of graduates from textile/fashion-focused programs, university retail programs should enhance existing curricula to emphasize an integrated, broad-based skill set. 38

39 Conclusion 2: While most graduates meet expectations of entry level retail positions, issues of their awareness of career opportunities in the retail industry could be expanded. Unrealistic expectations of what a retail career entails and general unwillingness to “pay their dues” were identified by those who did not graduate from merchandising or retail certificate programs. 39

40 Conclusion 3: Hard skills and soft skills are both valued. Curricula should focus on cultivating both types of skills for all graduates. 40

41 Conclusion 4: Internships are critical in making graduates more attractive to retail employers. Preparing students to make the most of their internships is a necessary part of a comprehensive curriculum. 41

42 Curriculum Framework Recommendations Framework Features: Multiple tracks to address diverse needs of retail employers Integration of merchandising, retailing, and business core courses Cornerstone/Capstone courses and experiences for career awareness and expectations management 42

43 Cornerstone Fundamentals Focus on Career path options Organizational skills Ethics and legal Additionally, (for ALL tracks) Communications: Presentation skills, written and electronic communication Analytics: Retail math, finance, accounting, trend analysis 43

44 Capstone Fundamentals Focus on Internships Leadership skills Experiential Learning: Retail simulation Retail Strategy 44

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46 *Special thanks to Rick McAllister, Tom Petrillo, Dean Billie Collier, Dean Caryn Beck-Dudley, and Dr. Mary Ann Moore Thank You!

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