Online sales will not kill jobs in the retail sector but they will shift many shopfront roles into the backroom, a new report shows.

The Retail Workforce Study, released by the Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency today, has forecast a 1.7 per cent jump in retail jobs in the next five years, or 109,100 jobs, up from the modest 0.2 per cent rise over the past five years.

The report has called for public funding to help upskill workers to deal with changes in technology and help promote the sector as a career rather than a stopgap job.

National Retailers Association director Michael Loney expected the growing popularity of "click and collect" options to reduce the focus on traditional sales jobs but increase the use of web designers and warehouse staff. He said WA was poised to reap at least 10 per cent of the jobs growth to 2017 - about 11,000 positions - but could get even more than its usual share as the State's economy continued to outperform.

In a sign of the conversion to online and smartphone sales, the retail occupations set for the biggest jumps are multimedia specialists and web developers (up 7.4 per cent annually), visual merchandisers involved in promoting brands and products instore and online (up 5.9 per cent annually), call centre staff (up 5.6 per cent) and shelf fillers to handle warehouse stocks for online sales (up 4.3 per cent).

Advertising and sales managers are projected to increase 4 per cent annually in the same time frame, and importers, exporters and wholesalers 3.3 per cent.

The West Australian

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