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Apprenticeship scheme standards published

New standards for apprenticeship schemes aimed at retail supervisors and managers have been published, following approval from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and a consortium of ‘trailblazer’ businesses.

The guidelines, worked on by the likes of Debenhams, John Lewis, Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s, outline the rules for taking on an apprentice. Individuals must be employed for at least 30 hours a week and paid at least the minimum wage.

In addition, all apprenticeships must last a minimum of 12 months, including paid time to attend off-the-job training.

Schemes will be co-funded, with the government investing £2 for every £1 of investment made by an employer. Businesses that have a paid part- or full-time workforce of 49 or fewer will have access to small employer incentives.

It comes as the government announces it has met its target for starting two million apprenticeships. Skills minister Nick Boles said he wants schemes to become a key part of retailers’ growth strategy.

The final publication is the result of a three-phase system that started with an announcement to reform apprenticeships in October 2013.

Group apprenticeship manager of the Co-operative and chair of the retail trailblazer Lloyd Thomas added: “Our trailblazer members have been totally committed to developing employer driven standards that will really raise the professionalism of the industry.”

Rebecca Murphy of department store Goulds Dorchester added: “As a [small business] I was really keen to be involved in the trailblazer to ensure the new apprenticeship standards are accessible to all and will work whatever size of business employers are operating.”

Director of strategic policy at People 1st, the organisation managing the trailblazer standard development, Annette Allmark said: “The new retailer apprenticeship standard presents a great opportunity for the industry especially as employers report that 72% of vacancies are hard to fill due to applicants not having the right skills.“

Full information on the standards is available online at apprenticeships.org.uk.

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