Stories by Joseph Fuller

Expert Voices

Trump's call to retrain workers a chance for business to step up

Donald Trump surrounded by Ivanka Trump and guests signing executive order on worker training
President Trump signs an executive order during the White House's job creation pledge event on July 19, 2018. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

The White House recently announced an effort to promote high-tech worker retraining for the workplaces of the future.

Why it matters: The U.S. does not have a talent development system for “middle skills” jobs — those that require more education and training than a high school diploma but less than a 4-year college degree — which is no small problem, since only one-third of Americans over age 25 are college graduates.

Expert Voices

People want to see each other face to face

Our expert voices conversation about the death of retail.

Best Buy was written off for dead a few years ago. The company rebounded through sharper pricing, more services, and an increased assortment of products that aren't readily sourced online, such as mobile phones and brown goods.

For customers, the experience of retail shopping retains an edge over the online experience. Shopping remains fundamentally a social experience that people enjoy doing together. Two, customers continue to rely on malls to access services such as nail salons, for purchases that require customization, such as the tailoring of garments, and for entertainment.

For some product categories, retail settings are simply superior. For example, companies who struggle to express important features of their product online — such as sportswear, for which the texture and precise color of fabric is critical — will continue to rely on stores.

Moreover, new retail formats are emerging that are less susceptible to online competition. Brands like Uniqlo, H&M and Zara sell lower-priced products that are often purchased on impulse and do not offer sufficient margin to cover the cost of returns and free shipping that online shoppers demand.

The bottom line: Retail employment will not disappear. It will decline, but stabilize as retailers innovate.

Other voices in the conversation:

Joseph Fuller is Professor of Management Practice at Harvard Business School.

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