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The Future for the Retail Worker

An inside look at the future of retail, in-demand skill sets and the changing job landscape

Experts say that the retail industry will change more in the next 50 years than it has in the past century.

Technological innovation is spearheading this movement with virtual stores, checkouts that can be done on your mobile phone, and apps that dispense your clothes shopping selections to a dressing room. But the consumer isn't the only one in the equation. What about the retail worker? 

This marriage between technology and the digital retail experience will redefine jobs in retail, which is the largest growing industry for millennials (see chart), according to the Department for Professional Employees AFL-CIO.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the retail industry to grow by about 12 percent and add 1.8 million jobs between 2010 and 2020.

"Many retailers are working hard to attract highly skilled technology experts who might not realize there is a place for them in retail," said Ellen Davis, senior vice president of the National Retail Federation, in an interview with CNBC.

It is likely technology will replace clerks and cashiers and that sales people will act as brand advocates - similar to how the staff in Apple stores function. Mobile will be the primary way consumers interact with retail products and virtual stores and mobile apps will account for 50 percent of web sales by 2015, according to Gartner Inc.

So what kind of jobs can millennials expect to apply for? What skill set will you need?

Jobs like software engineers, developers, marketing analysts, and social media teams, among many others, will be in high demand as retailers look to create engaging content with touch screen interactive technology and cloud-based controls for real-time innovate digital storefronts.

Managers are seeking teamwork, analytical, and computer skills from millennials, according to the Millennial Generation Research Review, conducted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. Key skills managers want to see developed are those around work ethic, communications, initiative, interpersonal, and adaptability.

"For organizations with high hiring needs, graduates and entry-level non-graduates together make up 35 percent of total external hires. Further, 66 percent of those organizations are planning to increase their university hiring in 2014, up from 49 percent in 2011," said Donna Weiss, managing director at the Corporate Executive Board, in an interview with Chief Learning Officer.

Millennials, looks like the ball will be in your court.

Liz Torres can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @etorres446.  

Monster Wants to Know: Where do you see the future of retail going? How do you think it'll change the job landscape? Share with us in the comment section.

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