In department store work and in nearly all branches of retail selling there is a marked fluctuation in the number employed during the year. Sales work in the department stores is seasonal in the sense that a large number of extra sales women are taken on during the Christmas season for a period of temporary employment, usually lasting from one to two months. The proportion of the total working force for the whole year employed in such transient jobs is approximately one-fourth. How selling positions in retail and wholesale stores compare with other fields of employment in this respect is seen in Diagram 6.
[Illustration: Diagram 6.—Per cent that the average number of women employed during the year is of the highest number employed in each of six industries]
In regard to promotion in department stores it should be noted that as a rule the executives are made in the business and are not, as in some industries, brought in from the outside because they must have some special training which the organization itself does not provide. Not only in Cleveland but in other cities where studies of the same kind have been made it has been found that practically all the people holding important floor positions have come up from the ranks. The various lines of promotion through the different departments are analyzed in detail in the report.
That vocational training for department store employees is both desirable and possible is proved by the fact that most of the large stores in Cleveland make some provision for the instruction of their workers. Some of these classes are carefully organized and excellently taught with every promise of increasing in usefulness. Others employ methods of instruction which belong to the academic school of an earlier decade and give evidence that the problem of vocational training with which they are presumably concerned is not even understood.
From the standpoint of the school there are two well recognized kinds of training possible for department store employees: trade preparatory and trade extension training. Eventually it may prove practicable to organize instruction of both kinds, but it is the opinion of the author of the report that under present conditions the surest results can be expected from trade extension training. In trade extension instruction the members of the group to be dealt with have already secured their foothold in the industry; and having mastered at least the rudiments of their job they have acquired a basis of experience which may be utilized for purposes of instruction. These people are responsive to teaching organized with regard to their needs, for daily experience is demonstrating to them their deficiencies.