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Apprenticeship standards to focus on retail supervisors

A group of retail ‘trailblazers’, including Oasis, Tesco, Debenhams, Asda, Sainsbury’s and John Lewis, has been tasked with developing new standards for apprenticeship schemes aimed at supervisors and managers.

It is the third phase of the Government’s apprenticeship reform programme, first set out by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills in October 2013.

The same group of employers and trade bodies worked on the second phase of the programme, which saw them review standards for retail shop floor staff and sales assistant apprentices earlier this year. The revised standards are now awaiting ministerial approval – expected in the “near future” – and a pilot is due to launch by September 2015. They are expected to become the industry standard in 2017-18.

The third phase will begin with an initial meeting in mid-November, and a first draft of the revised standards for supervisors and managers is due to be submitted in February.

Both phases are being led by The Co-operative and managed by skills and workforce development charity People 1st.

People 1st said the retail industry needs to recruit over 22,000 new managers by 2020. “Employers have reported to People 1st that 72% of their vacancies are hard to fill they cannot find applicants with the required skills, in particular relating to delivering great customer service,” said the charity’s director of strategic policy Annette Allmark.

“I’d encourage any employers that haven’t been part of the process as yet to get involved, especially small and medium-sized businesses, even if they don’t currently employ apprentices now. This is a great opportunity to influence the new look apprenticeship during its development.”

Lloyd Thomas, group apprenticeship manager at The Co-operative, added: “Supervisors and managers with excellent people skills and the ability to deliver a fantastic customer experience are essential to the retail industry.

“Employers on the trailblazer can’t stress how important these skills are to our businesses, so we are really excited to have the chance to define them in the new apprenticeship standards.”

Retail was not included in the first phase.

Readers' comments (1)

  • Apprenticeships can be so effective. The Government should also look abroad for insight. I was born in Denmark where apprenticeships are the norm.

    The pace of technology and the change it triggers, means that store staff, right on the front line of customer engagement, need to be considered better.

    I fear that retailers rush for 'Click & Collect' in store this Xmas, will create difficult environments for store staff to meet customer expectations.

    Many will view store staff as part of the problem, when in fact they are very much part of the solution.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

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