Retailers should soon be able to call on a better qualified workforce thanks to the creation of a new National Skills Academy for Retail.
Skillsmart Retail is in the process of forming the academy, which will create partnerships between local retailers, training providers and local agencies.
National Skills Academies already exist in six sectors including construction, fashion retail, financial services and manufacturing. It is thought the new retail academy will follow the same format as many existing academies with a network of employer-led regional centres of excellence. It will support retailers and employees by offering advice on a range of subjects including training, work experience opportunities and career development.
The new academy will reach the end of its planning stage in March 2008. The next stage will see the formation of a network of physical and virtual 'Skills Shops' and 'Live Learning Stores', typically linked to colleges or other learning centres.
Independent Nisa retailer Kishor Patel, who owns four stores in Hertfordshire, has been helping Skillsmart Retail ahead of a development workshop to be held at the end of the month.
He told Convenience Store: "I want to see the 'Skills Shops' enhance the skills of existing employees and also make retail a real career choice. They should also engage with local schools so that pupils can see there is more to retail than just stacking shelves and serving customers. Retailing has changed so much over the past two decades. In order to attract newcomers into the sector it has to be modernised and the formation of the academies will certainly help."
l Skillsmart Retail has organised three 'getting involved' events, which will be held in Sheffield and Birmingham on November 27 and 29 respectively and on December 6 in London. To reserve your place, call 0207 462 5079.

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