New program to fill gap in retail industry
By Sharon Navarro
Amid the dilemma of fiscal restraint and government cutbacks to education a new degree program in retail management at Ryerson Polytechnic University has emerged.
Students of the four-year undergraduate program will graduate with a bachelor of commerce in retail management. Unlike other schools which offer a generalized management program, Ryerson's program allows students to gain an in-depth approach specific to the retail industry.
Donna Smith, interim director for Ryerson's school of retail management, said she believes the new program, which starts in September, will help meet the needs of the growing retail industry.
"What differentiates Ryerson's program from other universities is the applied-focus approach where we combine theory and industry-based practice," Smith said. Under this practice-meets-theory approach, Ryerson assists third-year students in finding industry-related jobs through the internship component of the program.
Plans for Ryerson's new program started three years ago after curriculum planners noticed the absence of a university-level undergraduate degree program in retail management in Canada.
Dianne Brisebois, president and chief executive officer of the Retail Council of Canada, said Ryerson is anticipating the move towards professionalism and the program should be a model for other institutions to emulate.
"The retail industry is constantly changing and with technology it is becoming increasingly sophisticated," she said.
Customer service, technology, interpersonal skills and strategy are the four main themes included in the program's curriculum, Smith said. She added through Ryerson's Roger's Communications Centre, students will have access to the latest communications equipment and can entertain guest speakers via the Internet.
The honours business administration program at Western has a retail management option in its senior year of studies, but does not offer a program exclusively in retail management.
"Generally graduates are well prepared for any type of management," said professor Jeffery Gandz, associate dean of programs.
Jim Chestnutt, general manager of Eaton's school of retailing and the Canadian retail management program, said the retail industry accounts for 30 per cent of Canada's gross national product and employs 1.3 million Canadians.
"The new retail management program definitely addresses the industry's need for a pool of young Canadian talent from which to recruit managers," Brisebois added.