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Value of Apprenticeships backed by retailers

Value of Apprenticeships backed by retailers

Programme proves the best way to recruit and upskill staff

The UK’s leading retailers came together yesterday to promote the value of retail Apprenticeships to employers, employees and the economy. 

At the launch event for Apprenticeship Week, organised by the Apprenticeship Ambassador Network, Skillsmart Retail, held a workshop to encourage more retailers, large and small, to offer Apprenticeships.

Over the last five years, the number of Apprenticeships completed has increased by 190% and the drop-out rate has nearly halved, from 70% to 31%. In 2010, 90% of Apprenticeships were achieved by young people under 24 years old and last year 11,400 Apprenticeships were completed in England alone.

The programme can help employers with staff productivity, motivation and retention and allows individuals to learn essential retail skills as well as gain qualifications in English and Maths.

Anne Seaman, Chief Executive of Skillmart Retail said: “We are delighted that retailers have realised how valuable Apprenticeships are. Growing numbers of retailers, large and small, are taking on apprentices because they can see the contribution they make to business success.

“Apprenticeships are a good route into retail, making it a career of choice with clear development opportunities. Retail is one of the few industries where people can work their way up from the shop floor to the top floor and into the board room. This ability to spot the potential of people and support them is part of the reason why Apprenticeships have proved so successful in the sector.”

Speaker at the event, Judith Nelson, UK and ROI Personnel Director, Tesco, said: “At Tesco, we believe in helping our people get on and achieve their potential. Supporting our staff to be the best they can be, and gain a national qualification along the way, is an important investment in skills and training that help them to develop and us to be a better business for our customers."

Aldi’s Finance Director Matthew Speight took the opportunity to launch the company’s new national Apprenticeship initiative aimed at school leavers in the UK wishing to pursue a career in retail management.

He said: “We believe this is a great scheme for those looking for a genuine career path in retail management and for Aldi to be able to develop future store managers. The scheme provides real opportunities and allows us to find strong, team players who want to contribute to driving our business forward whilst improving their career prospects. They will be given real responsibility from day one and will have the chance to learn about the business from a grass roots level.”

With their substantial HR and training budgets, the large retailers have led the way with Apprenticeships, but the demand from the rest of the industry has become more apparent.

Rav Garcha, Director of four independent Nisa Today’s, has recently put his staff through Level 2 Apprenticeships. He said: “In retail, staff are largely responsible for the success of a business but often don’t understand how relevant their work is to the business. As retailers we should credit our staff for the work they do. As independents we often can’t compete with larger high street retailers on salaries, but we can give staff more skills and education as a way to thank them.”

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