06/18/2018

Entry-level jobs at stores aren’t as easy to get

Getting a job at a store or fast-food restaurant — often a way into the economy for an unskilled worker — used to be as simple as walking up and down the mall and applying. Now, with store chains closing and laying off thousands of workers, that path is more complicated. The stores that remain financially healthy are actually raising wages in a tight labor market. But they’re seeking a new type of worker — one who has a lot more skills up front.

Thomas, 44, was able to get a job at wholesale club B.J.’s for $12 an hour — but that was only after signing up for computer lessons and taking a class in retail basics like how to track inventory and handle issues like returns. That led her to another opportunity at a casino.

Across all entry-level retail jobs, the number of skills being demanded rose from 2010 to 2016, according to an analysis done for The Associated Press by Burning Glass Technologies, which scours 25 million job postings.

Burning Glass found a greater emphasis on customer service and communications skills for cashier, stock clerk and sales floor support jobs. And for many other entry-level jobs, employers want even more skills, like the ability to use customer relations software like Salesforce. Even forklift operators are being asked to be proficient in inventory management software.

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