Aurora Fashions, the parent company behind womenswear chains Oasis, Coast and Warehouse, has announced the launch of an academically-accredited retail talent programme for its store staff in the UK and Ireland.
Believed to be the first-of-its-kind in fashion retail, the Aspire2Accelerate training programme has been developed in partnership with the University of Derby Corporate (UDC) and offers store staff three higher education level qualifications targeted at all career stages from sales advisor to area manager.
The programme involves work-based learning and each stage completed will contribute credits towards a full university degree in retail management.
Aspire2Accelerate was launched to all Aurora employees, who are currently lower than management level, two months ago and following the application process, the successful candidates begin the first stage of the programme this month.
This first stage will see up to 150 successful applicants from Coast, Oasis and Warehouse participate in a year-long course, which is partly fulfilled through an online e-learning portal, to gain a University certificate in retail management.
“Aurora has always had talent management programmes within our business,” said Warehouse managing director Meg Lustman. “But this is the first time we have done a link-up like this where we are targeting entry level employees.
“It is particularly relevant at the moment with higher education becoming more inaccessible for many young people. This gives people an opportunity to gain a formal qualification that they might not otherwise have, and they get to do it while they are working.”
Paul Wilkinson, head of client partnerships at UDC, added: ““The programme combines academic, theory and work-based knowledge with vocational skill development and is a great way to begin a university degree pathway to support career progression.”
Lustman said the company had a “long-term” commitment to the programme.