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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
High-street chain launches retail-apprenticeship program
Article Type: Notes and news From: Industrial and Commercial Training, Volume 44, Issue 2
UK retailer Next has launched an apprenticeship program which will see the recruitment of 1,000 new employees.
The program was launched with advertisements appearing across the 40,000-employee company’s 550 stores and via an internet campaign.
The company hopes that the new training scheme will help to challenge the stereotype of the sector being based on low skills and improve shopping for Next’s customers.
The program has been welcomed by the Government, which has committed an additional £500,000 to apprenticeships and training in an effort to improve the skills of the UK workforce and help to reduce the one million young people classed as in neither education nor employment.
The Government cash will boost the £40 billion already spent on training by companies and increase the number of British workers who are eligible for an apprenticeship. Currently 28 percent of UK employees qualify for an apprenticeship, compared to 51 percent of the workforce in France and 65 percent in Germany.
The Government also hopes that the apprenticeship program will help to tackle the skill deficit, which helps to explain why British workers are around 15 percent less productive than their international counterparts.
The 1,000 people will be recruited from across the country for the intensive six-month program run by Pera Training. On completing the program, the candidates will gain a Level 2 apprenticeship. This consists of a Level 2 diploma in retail, a certificate in retail knowledge and the key skills of literacy and numeracy.
Skills minister John Hayes commented: “The commitment by Next to train 1,000 young people using modern apprenticeships is great news and shows the flexibility and versatility of apprenticeships. I look forward to hearing more about the Next program and perhaps in future meeting some of the young people who have been recruited and qualified under the program.”
The new program is backed by the National Apprenticeship Service, which oversees the delivery of apprenticeships across the England. NAS also promotes the value of apprenticeships to employers, coordinating funding for apprenticeship places and maintaining the national online vacancy system.
Richard Grice, managing director of Pera Training, said: “The ambitious program has been designed to complement Next’s existing training program and has been tested through a pilot scheme, launched earlier this year.
“Next already had a well-developed training program, but wanted to move this to the next level, with formal accreditation and a nationally recognized program. A modern apprenticeship does exactly this.”