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BSSA says training bodies must help indies to boost their skills

Retail training groups in the UK must put more emphasis on supporting small businesses, according to the British Shops and Stores Association.

The BSSA, which represents small retailers, said independents would struggle to meet their obligations if proposed skills training is made compulsory.

Skills council Skillsmart Retail brought retailers and MPs together at the House of Commons last week to discuss development and training in the retail sector.

BSSA chief executive John Dean said: "A lot of the work that training bodies do is aimed at multiples, but independent retailers can't afford for staff to be away on training for long periods. Moves to improve the provision of training must not ignore smaller businesses."

He said the best way to provide training for smaller businesses would be online.

The government's Leitch Review, published last December, recommended that training should become a statutory right for staff if employers fail to invest in raising skills levels by 2010.

Skillsmart Retail research manager Ian Wheeler said: "There's a lot of support already for small businesses, including free training. We need to communicate what's out there."

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