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Home > News > February 2006 > 15-Feb-2006

Retail seminar focuses on inspirational leadership

What makes an inspirational leader? That question will be the focus of a Northern Ireland management and leadership seminar organised by Skillsmart Retail, the Sector Skills Council for the retail industry.

The event takes place at the Belfast Institute of Further and Higher Education on the morning of February 21 as part of Northern Ireland's 'Management Month'.

The keynote speaker is Nigel Crouch from the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) who will be inviting delegates to participate in an interactive leadership seminar. Delegates will also hear Patrick Kelly, a Mace retailer and president of the Londonderry Junior Chamber of Commerce, who will be sharing his thoughts on developing leaders in all aspects of business.

The seminar, 'Retailers - Be Inspired to Lead', will be followed by a Human Resources forum, which Skillsmart Retail says will include workshops on employing a flexible workforce and taking a sectoral approach to recruitment and retention.

Tory Kerley, Skillsmart Retail's manager for Northern Ireland, warns that the UK's retail sector is on the verge of an employment crisis. "The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has predicted a shortfall of 65 million employees in the UK workforce over the next 20 years - the result of changing demographics and, primarily, the retirement of an ageing population.

"This diminishing recruitment pool is increasingly placing retail in competition with other sectors when it comes to attracting quality employees in the numbers the industry requires. In the last year, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has also cited a lack of available talent as a major constraint on business growth.

"The retail sector is leading the charge in the Northern Ireland economy in terms of employment and growth, but it faces enormous challenges as a result and needs the very best managers and leaders to keep ahead of the game."

Skillsmart Retail estimates that if all the proposed retail developments in Northern Ireland go ahead, there will be 12,000 new retail jobs, including 2,500 management positions, created within a decade.

"Retailers need to start asking themselves the hard questions now: Where will these talented managers come from, what are we doing to plan for this, how can we ensure that the best of our smaller businesses can compete with the multi-nationals to recruit the best staff and what are our current leaders doing to nurture the new talent that will drive our sector forward in future decades?," said Ms Kerley.

"The seminar will provide an opportunity for our retail employers to come together to discuss these issues and reflect on what we need to do as a sector to raise our game and plan for the future."

External links

Skillsmart Retail

Management Month is co-ordinated by the Management and Leadership Network, funded by the Department for Employment & Learning. For more information, visit

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