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Bradbury: industry must back young retail talent

River Island chief executive Richard Bradbury has called on retailers and the Government to do more to support young people wanting to begin a career in the fashion industry.

Speaking at the launch of a range of T-shirts and T-shirt dresses designed by River Island designers and sold in aid of youth charity the Prince’s Trust, Bradbury said: “I feel really strongly that it is essential now that we support all of these people who can’t get a job who were told that if they got a degree they would get a job. [That message] has been oversold and overpriced and there are not enough jobs.”

Last week, the Office for National Statistics revealed that youth unemployment had reached a record high of nearly 20% in the three months to the end of September, with 943,000 people aged between 16 and 24 out of work.

Bradbury said: “River Island tries to support young talent because they are our customers and they are our future employees.” He said the River Island presents…T’s for the Trust range, which was created in partnership with Prince’s Trust ambassadors including singers Alesha Dixon and Kelly Rowland, would raise a minimum of £75,000 for the Prince’s Trust from sales generated in stores and online.

River Island, which employs 8,000 people, also sponsors Graduate Fashion Week and supports children’s theatre charity Chickenshed.

Bradbury said: “We know how big an employer the retail sector is and there are all sorts of opportunities and skill sets for those working in it”.

Bradbury’s comments came as Skillsmart Retail, the Sector Skills Council for Retail, welcomed Government plans to create 35,000 apprenticeships over the next two years and give extra funding for National Skills Academies.

In a white paper, the Government named retail as ‘high employment’ industry.

Bradbury added: “I think the retail sector has changed in the last five to six years from complaining that we didn’t have the right people to being more proactive.”

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