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Skills improvement needed in Welsh retail sector to boost business

Skills improvement needed in Welsh retail sector to boost business

National Skills Academy for Retail launches in Wales

The National Skills Academy for Retail launched yesterday (21st November) in Wales, aimed at raising the skills of retail employees in the country and helping businesses become more profitable.

The new network of skills shops in Wales has been established by Skillsmart Retail, the Sector Skills Council for Retail, with funding from the Welsh Government’s Sector Priorities Fund Pilot, plus additional support from the European Social Fund (ESF). The National Skills Academy for Retail, a wholly owned subsidiary of Skillsmart Retail, offers retailers of all sizes and their employees training opportunities including Apprenticeships, management training and bespoke programmes as well as advice for those wanting to get into the sector.

The Welsh retail sector currently employs 139,000 people, accounting for around 10% of total employment. There are just under 9,000 retail businesses in the country and the vast majority (91%) employ fewer than ten people. Despite its importance to the identity and communities of many Welsh towns and cities, as well as the national economy, many retail staff are under-qualified. Retailers need access to the right training to ensure the continued growth and sustainability of the sector.

Research conducted by The Management Centre in Bangor, ahead of setting up the National Skills Academy for Retail in Wales, found that many retailers struggle to recruit good employees. The difficulty faced by retailers is then attracting talented young people, who often don’t view retail as a career of choice, and retaining them by offering a genuine pathway of progression.

The National Skills Academy for Retail aims to address these challenges by promoting retail as an exciting, challenging and varied profession and encouraging retailers to offer training opportunities to their employees.

As part of the national launch, three skills shops were officially welcomed to the National Skills Academy for Retail’s network today. Coleg Llandrillo Retail Skills Shop based at Rhyl College, The Cardiff and Vale Skills Shop and Acorn Skills Shop in Newport will offer support across the whole country, working with retailers large and small.

The event took place at the largest shopping centre in Wales, St David’s in Cardiff, with keynote speaker, Jeff Cuthbert, AM Deputy Minister of Skills for the Welsh Government.

Deputy Minister for Skills, Jeff Cuthbert said: “Retail is hugely important to the Welsh economy. Its growth and sustainability is dependent on building a well-skilled workforce and attracting new ambitious people to drive the sector forward in the future. The National Skills Academy for Retail’s skills shops will work as champions for the sector, promoting the variety of opportunities within the industry and working with retailers to ensure continuous career development of staff.”

Jane Rexworthy, Head of the National Skills Academy for Retail, said: “I am delighted that we can now offer a full service in Wales. Whatever the retailer, our skills shops can help find the right training solution for them, whether it is developing an Apprenticeship programme, honing customer service or creating the wow factor with visual merchandising.

“These are challenging times for retailers, so it is more important than ever to run an efficient and productive business. Investing in staff is an effective way for retailers to get the most from their staff and improve profitability. I would encourage all Welsh retailers to find what our skills shops can do for them.”

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