Workers across the retail and wholesale industry recognise that having a mentor can help them to upskill and set goals, but just 9% currently have one, according to a new Opinium Research study commissioned by AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians).

Opinium spoke to 2,000 UK employees about their attitudes, along with those of their employer, towards having a mentoring programme – both in terms of being mentored and being the mentor.

219 of these work in retail and wholesale, and while there’s plenty of leaders out there, with nearly half (49%) in the sector having acted as a mentor to someone else during their career (compared to 53% nationally), less than one in four (23%) has received mentoring themselves over the past five years.


Furthermore, only 16% of organisations in retail and wholesale currently run a formal mentoring programme – compared to 22% across all industries.

Despite this, 84% of employees in the sector who have received mentoring recognised it as a valuable experience – with 72% of those who have been a mentor agreeing it was worthwhile. More than half of workers (56%) in retail and wholesale said that having a mentor gave them new skills, with a further 62% saying that it gave them more confidence. Having someone to talk with, being able to set goals, and resolving issues were other reasons cited as to why mentors are useful additions to the workplace.

Of those who do not work in an organisation currently operating formal mentoring, a third of employees in retail and wholesale would like them to.

Nearly half (49%) of employees in the industry believe it is companies who should lead in the area of setting up and maintaining mentoring relationships, dropping to just 18% who believe the onus should rely on the individual.

Mark Farrar, chief executive at AAT, says: “A company is only ever as good as the sum of its parts – which is why employers should be seeking to implement effective mentoring schemes that help to invest in staff and impact on their career pathways. It’s clear from our research that mentoring opportunities are not as prevalent as the desire from employees, and the onus is on the workplace to facilitate staff training in this way.

“Equally, workers themselves should consider the various benefits of being a mentor in their own right, both in their current place of employment and within their wider industry. Being a strong mentor makes you a better leader of people, and helps to pass on your own skills and insight to the business leaders of tomorrow.”