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Pathways to Progression: Improving progression rates for young retail workers

The retail sector must come together with the government on an industrial strategy with good jobs at its heart.


Pathways to progression: improving progression rates for young retail workers – written by the Fabian Society for the TUC – looks at low-paid employees in 2001-2004 and again in 2014-2016. It finds that retail is the worst industry for pay and progression. Out of people on low pay in 2001-2004, two in five (42 per cent) who worked in retail were still stuck in low-paid work a decade later.

Across the economy as a whole, 9 out of 10 low-paid teenagers in 2001-2004 escaped low pay by their late 20s (2014-2016). But in contrast more than a quarter (27 per cent) of employees the same age in retail had not escaped low pay over that period.

The Fabian Society estimates that just over half a million workers aged between 18 and 29 are currently working in low-paid retail work. Median pay for young workers in the sector is £8.42 an hour – lower than the median wage across the economy for workers aged 18-29 (£9.88) and substantially lower than median pay for the population as a whole (£12.18).

Improving pay and progression for retail workers can help companies by increasing retention, broadening the pool of talent and improving productivity. The retail sector must come together with the government on an industrial strategy with good jobs at its heart.

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Andrew Harrop

Andrew Harrop is general secretary of the Fabian Society.


Cameron Tait

Cameron Tait is head of the Changing Work Centre and senior research fellow at the Fabian Society.


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