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New apprenticeship scheme announced to create next generation of retail leaders

The National Skills Academy for Retail has launched a new training programme designed to give young people across England an opportunity to kick-start a career in retail. The Retail Apprenticeship Scheme aims to find and develop the best young recruits for small to medium sized retailers.


New apprenticeship scheme announced to create next generation of retail leaders

The launch follows a survey by the scheme’s manager, the Retail Apprenticeship Training Agency, which found that only 10% of retailers have offered apprenticeships under government schemes in the last five years with only 3% currently using an apprentice. The survey revealed that a key barrier was the perception that 16 – 18 year olds are low skilled.

The Retail Apprenticeship Scheme aims to address this issue by providing SME retailers who sign up to the scheme with a free recruitment service which will match them up with a suitable apprentice. In addition each apprentice will be employed by RATA to reduce the risk, cost, time and administration for retailers.

As part of the programme, each young person will be assessed and given pre-employment training, to ensure that they are job-ready. The scheme is open to all independent retailers in England.

Jane Rexworthy, chief executive of the NSA for Retail, explained: "This is a brand new approach to Apprenticeships, with RATA recruiting, training, assessing, and looking after all the HR issues for each learner. Employers simply pay a small weekly fee to cover agency and apprentice wage costs.

"This isn’t about creating short-term jobs – we are aiming to launch a new generation of retail leaders and entrepreneurs in England, with the talent and ability to forge a long-term and successful career within the retail sector." 

Opportunities will be created in all areas of the retail sector and will range from working as part of a marketing, IT or finance team, to joining an independent shop where learners will be given the opportunity to gain all of the skills necessary to run an independent retail outlet.

Rexworthy added: "We are creating a two-pronged approach, geared towards both young people and retail businesses of all sizes that may be looking to take on apprentice.

"It has been proven that apprentices develop a real loyalty and engagement with their workplace. They can be trained to suit your exact business needs and at the same time, employers are demonstrating a real commitment to their community, by retaining high calibre young people within their local economy."

Throughout the placement, RATA retains the responsibility and management of the apprentice, while independent retailers may also qualify for a £1,500 Apprenticeship grant to support them through the scheme.

Rexworthy said: "We will support the employer throughout and all we ask is that businesses  provide a full time placement, with a minimum of 30 hours per week, for one year, in a safe working environment.

"If the apprentice is not suitable or a change in employer circumstances occurs, apprentices can be referred back to RATA.  At the end of the programme, the apprentice will have a nationally recognised retail qualification and fantastic work experience on their CV, while the employer will have a fully trained member of staff with the option of taking them on permanently."

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