In response to the International Youth Day, the world’s largest international health and beauty retailer, A.S. Watson Group, announced its commitment to provide 200,000 job openings for young people globally by 2030. The pledge is to give young people from all over the world the opportunities, skills and experiences to equip them for the fast-changing business landscape and kickstart their career in retail.
Investing in Young People
According to the World Economic Forum, the COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected labour markets around the world, and it has been especially challenging for young people. Globally, youth unemployment was already an issue before the pandemic, with 15 to 24-year-olds three times more likely to be without work than the over-25s. COVID-19 has made that situation worse.
To help address this global challenge, A.S. Watson Group plans to offer 200,000 job opportunities worldwide for young people, enabling them to gain valuable experience to develop their career in the retail sector. The jobs will span different areas of our business, including working in stores, at head office and in distribution, and the roles are multi-disciplinary from customer service specialist, to marketing, digital development, eCommerce, analytics, finance, and sustainability, to name a few.
Parkson Tseung, Group People Director (Asia) of A.S. Watson Group, says, “We all have a responsibility to nurture the next generation. What young people need is more companies opening doors to them and offering them a platform to prove their abilities. A.S. Watson is proud to provide more and better opportunities so that young people see hope in their future amid uncertainties in the world economy. The pandemic has made it difficult for young people to start their career with limited exposure to the workplace. Through these jobs, we are not just empowering them to be more confident and competent but also strengthening our business by listening to the voice of the next generation.”
Getting Fit for the Future
The transformation of retailing at A.S. Watson who sets the new standard of O+O (Offline plus Online) integrated retail platform, the range of job nature and opportunities has widely expanded. Getting a start on the career ladder can be difficult for young people, however, who lack workplace experience and often the specific skills that these roles require.
Joanne Mackie, Group People Director (Europe) of A.S. Watson Group, adds, “Young people are an important source of talents and creativity; by developing their skills, we can make our business stronger and fitter for the future. We are not only offering job opportunities, we’re also providing training and coaching to give young people the skills they need to work in the new world of O+O retail. We plan to provide 5 million training hours specifically for youth in our global workforce to embrace the future. We look forward to 200,000 talented young people joining us between now and 2030 to help fuel the sustainable growth engine for A.S. Watson.”
Believing Young People Can Change the World
A.S. Watson has been investing in a range of people development programmes that combine on-the-job learning with further education. In the UK, Superdrug and Savers Apprenticeship Scheme has been established for more than 10 years to help school leavers who wanted to gain work experience rather than formal qualifications and has been recognised as a top Apprenticeship Employer in Retail. More than 4,500 people have achieved a Retailer Apprenticeship qualification through the scheme.
Kayleigh Arnold, who began as an apprentice and is now a Superdrug Assistant Store Manager, says, “The Apprenticeship Programme has been transformational and eye-opening for me, helping me understand modern roles in retail. I’m proud to have been given so many valuable opportunities at Superdrug. Having retail as my first job has turned out to be an extremely rewarding experience.”
In the Netherlands, Kruidvat offers students in vocational education the chance to gain practical experience as an accredited workplace for internship, working or learning. Approximately 1,400 apprentices join this programme every year.
Gwin Roks, one of the apprentices at Kruidvat says, “The apprenticeship at Kruidvat has given me a great opportunity to put the knowledge I have gained at school into practice and thus further expand my experience. It is rewarding to be part of the business and further my career development in retail sector.”
In Asia, the A.S. Watson Retail Academy was the first local retail academy in Hong Kong since 2018. A.S. Watson was also the first local company to offer a Professional Diploma in Retail Management, a Qualifications Framework (QF) level 5 programme, equivalent to a bachelor’s degree on the job. So far, more than 4,400 people have graduated from all levels of QF programmes.
“The Retail Management programme has given me much more than a qualification. It’s given me a new outlook on my career. Not only am I learning from the world leader in O+O retail, I feel privileged to be able to be a part of it and make it even better day by day,” says Roy Tsang, a graduate of the A.S. Watson Retail Academy who is currently Sales Operations Manager of Watsons Hong Kong.
Young people are deeply passionate about changing not just their own lives but the wider world for the better. That’s why, as well as offering jobs for them, A.S. Watson is giving young people a voice and engaging them in driving the Group’s sustainability initiatives. To achieve this, A.S. Watson has created the “Next Gen” Sustainability Committee, made up of 18 GenY/ GenZ team members from across 12 operating markets in Asia and Europe, who works with the company’s Global Sustainability Committee to accelerate the progress on sustainability and help create a better world.
As the world emerges from the pandemic, economic issues are presenting enormous challenges to so many young people, A.S. Watson is committed to giving the young generation a platform to kickstart their career and reinforcing the Group’s role in society as a purposeful company.