EYE ON

Retail Education: yes or no?

Retail sector has long been regarded as the one in which a successful career is possible even with no need of an advanced degree or prior experience particularly qualified or specialized. We now wonder if this is still true today or if an increasingly competitive global Retail industry requires more and more skilled and sophisticated strategies, training and qualifications.
Experts are divided about whether an advanced retail education is necessary or not and also if necessary a specialization in the sector.
According to John Schulte (Pres. National Mail Order Association) you can learn about Retail directly “in the streets”, you don't need books or classes. So the lack of a degree does not prevent one from learning and knowing the specific subject, it only means you learn it not at a school desk but through concrete experience. Same point of view is held by Ginger MacCuthcheon (leader of Ginger Pet House); according to her it is not the “title” or the degree which counts but just people's abilities and talents: "Retail is an art that balances selling and passion”.
On the contrary James Tenser (VSN Strategies, Tuscon) considers qualified studies essential to be able to operate and the same opinion is shared by Mike Wittenstein (Customer Experience Consultant) who is in favor of specialization as the key to a successful and rewarding career.
Kate Campbell (Director of Fashion & Retail Management at Art Institute in Tampa) underlines that recruiting in this sector mainly happens on college campuses, so a degree becomes necessary to undertake a career in Retail.
Donnella Tilery (CEO at Donnella's Closet) furthermore highlights another detail when it comes to education: the importance of Retail training and classes, always with a personal contact.
Half way from pros and cons, there are points of view such as Linda Cahan's (Cahan & Company, Retail Visual Design) who considers paramount a degree but unnecessary a specialized education.

(source: about.com guide)