Digital and environmental changes have a major influence on the retail industry, requiring updated skills and competences in response. In June 2020, the Swedish Parliament made amendments to the Education Act as a first policy step, replacing the upper secondary business and administration programme with a modernised sales and service programme by 2021.
Retailing plays an important role in contemporary society, offering ample employment opportunities and having a significant role in the economy. It is vitally important that upper secondary VET provides the labour market with skilled workers in this field.
The digital transformation is profoundly changing company prerequisites in this field. When consumers acquire products, almost every part of the shopper journey is being digitised, except for the last physical transfer of goods. Companies neglecting the use of modern technologies are vulnerable to new competitors who are actively utilising such technology in their activities and strategies. Secondary VET for retail must equip students with digital competence relevant to e-commerce. This ambition is endorsed by the national strategy for digitalisation; this emphasises the importance of digital transformation for strengthened national and international competitiveness in all areas and emphasises that education at all levels must include digital competence.
Companies must also adapt to environmental needs to remain competitive. Challenges due to global warming and efforts to combat the consequences of climate change have a huge impact on the business, parts of which are now being recognised as producing heavy environmental impact. Consumers are becoming more conscious of these challenges and are calling for sustainable products produced and delivered through sustainable supply chains. Since customers choose brands with values that align to their own, sustainability is a core driver of business productivity and growth in the 21st century.
The diploma programme goals have been altered in line with the need for updated competences relevant to challenges. Several courses within the programme are being adjusted to provide retail-specific content concerning sustainability and digital competences. Proposals are presently under discussion and final decisions are due in December 2020.