Grocery retailers have pledged to tackle the skills gap in the industry as a survey reveals that the vast majority (80%) of grocers believe there is a skills gap in basic literacy levels in school leaver recruits.

85% also said there are gaps in basic numeracy skills, while 100% of respondents to the IGD survey reported lacklustre knowledge of maths for business among school leavers. All respondents also noted a lack of knowledge in writing for business skills.

65%of respondents reported a lack of customer service skills while 70% reported gaps in communication skills.

86% said there are some gaps” and 9% said “significant” gaps in business maths among graduates too.

IGD members have pledged to “build on a range of activities that will help thousands of school pupils and people from disadvantaged groups to develop skills and experience in a first class workplace”.

The members wrote a letter to The Times backing the pledge. It was signed by leading grocers including  Andy Clarke, president and chief executive of Asda;  Peter Marks, group chief executive of The Co-operative Group; Dalton Philips, chief executive of Morrisons;  Mark Price, managing director of Waitrose; and Richard Brasher, commercial and marketing director of Tesco.

IGD chief executive Joanne Denney-Finch said: “The food and grocery industry in the UK provides more than 3.54m jobs, and as such we need to ensure we are able to recruit capable individuals both now and in the future. This is a world class industry, and we embrace people of all backgrounds, with varied levels of skills and qualifications – as long as they have the enthusiasm and drive to make the most of the opportunities available.”

 Justin King, president of IGD and chief executive of Sainsbury’s, also backs the pledge. He said: “The UK food and drink industry is a world leader but needs to do more to sell itself and attract the best and brightest UK graduates and school leavers . 

“Grocery retailers and manufacturers exist within every community in the country. We already deliver some great opportunities all over the UK and this pledge will help us to galvanise the whole industry towards collective and concerted action.”