Employers place a strong emphasis on essential skills in the workplace. Essential skills are used in nearly every occupation, and are seen as ¿building blocks¿ because people build on them to learn all other skills.
Each profile contains a list of example tasks that illustrate how each of the 9 essential skill is generally performed by the majority of workers in an occupation. The estimated complexity levels for each task, between 1 (basic) and 5 (advanced), may vary based on the requirements of the workplace.
Retail sales associates are a subgroup of retail salespersons and sales clerks. Retail sales associates sell or rent a range of goods and services in stores and other retail businesses, and in wholesale businesses that sell on a retail basis to the general public.
Working with Others
Retail sales associates work independently during slower shifts. They coordinate and integrate tasks with co-workers to share resources and complete tasks. They work with co-workers to receive shipments, restock and prepare displays and customer orders. They attend staff meetings to share ideas and to solve specific issues, such as health and safety breaches, low sales and theft.
Retail sales associates learn through their daily work experiences. They learn by observing co-workers, reading product magazines and articles and viewing computer and video-based training modules provided by suppliers and their employers. They may participate in training programs provided by their employers and unions covering topics, such as the Workplace Hazardous Material Information System (WHMIS), customer service, product knowledge, safe food handling and first aid.
All essential skills are affected by the introduction of technology in the workplace. Retail sales associates' ability to adapt to new technologies is strongly related to their skill levels across the essential skills, including reading, writing, thinking and communication skills. Technologies are transforming the ways in which workers obtain, process and communicate information, and the types of skills needed to perform in their jobs. For example, with calculators and point-of-sale equipment, retail sales associates do not have to manually calculate bills or determine the amount of change to provide on cash transactions; however, they do require basic computer skills. Use of electronic point-of-sale equipment and laser radio terminals is now commonplace throughout retail establishments: tasks previously done manually, such as entering dates, times and amounts into bills, are completed with speed and accuracy using this equipment. Retail sales associates commonly enter information using small keyboards; transmit data to online databases; use computerized cash registers to scan items, enter amounts and codes, and process electronic payments; and use databases to retrieve data, such as inventory levels, product numbers, descriptions and prices. Digital technologies also provide workers with tools, such as cellular telephones, that increase opportunities for verbal interaction. For example, they may call to confirm appointments and orders with customers and providers.
Technology in the workplace further affects the complexity of tasks related to the essential skills required for this occupation. For example, workers need the skills to use increasingly complex software applications. At the same time, software and hardware developers are improving ease of use for workers through touch-screen technology, built-in self-help tutorials and more user-friendly software applications. Workers also have the opportunity to develop their communication skills and acquire knowledge by using videos, videoconferencing, DVDs, multi-media and Web-based applications.