Skill requirements in retail work: the case of high-end fashion retailing



Nickson D, Price R, Baxter-Reid H & Hurrell S (2017) Skill requirements in retail work: the case of high-end fashion retailing. Work, Employment and Society, 31 (4), pp. 692-708.

This article considers skill requirements in retail work, drawing on the example of high-end fashion retailing. It considers debates about the required 'soft' and 'hard' elements of skill for such work. Drawing on Cockburn's typology – skill residing in the worker; in what is required to perform a job; and as a socially constructed political concept – it seeks to offer a more nuanced discussion of the nature of skills in retail work beyond the usual characterization of such work as being inherently low skilled. Data are reported from 37 interviews with managers, supervisors and employees in a range of high-end fashion retailing outlets. The article recognizes how this work was seen as skilled by the interviewees, particularly with regard to the desired product knowledge and selling ability required for such work. Lastly, it seeks to refine Cockburn's typology in understanding skill requirements in retail work.

high-end fashion retailing; retail work; soft and hard skills

Work, Employment and Society: Volume 31, Issue 4

FundersUniversity of Strathclyde
Publication date01/08/2017
Publication date online01/12/2016
Date accepted by journal26/08/2016

People (1)


Dr Hazel Baxter-Reid
Dr Hazel Baxter-Reid

Lecturer in Organisational Behaviour, Management, Work and Organisation