Government plans to transform the apprenticeship system are continuing apace with the creation of 29 new ‘trailblazer’ groups which will develop new standards across a wide range of sectors, including retail.

Made up of employers from the same sector, the groups will seek to condense hundreds of pages of complex frameworks to a two-side description of the skills, knowledge and attitude employees need to demonstrate in their industry.

The retail trailblazer group will seek to develop clear and concise standards for shop floor staff and sales assistants.

Guidance on how they should be assessed - written tests, practical observations or interviews - will also be included.

The first phase of the project began in October and covered eight sectors. The groups are now actively working to make their reforms a reality on the ground.

British Retail Consortium director general Helen Dickinson said: “Retailers are enthusiastic backers of apprenticeships and supported 100,000 opportunities in the year 2012 to 2013. It is an important acknowledgement of retail’s importance as an employer that the industry has been included in the second wave of Trailblazer projects.”

More than 40% of UK businesses plan to take on apprentices in the next five years, up from 36% last year, new research released at the start of National Apprenticeship Week on 3 March found.

The study also revealed that 20% of small to medium businesses planned to take on one or more apprentices in the next 12 months.

Business secretary Vince Cable said: “Given the grants available to help small businesses take on apprentices, it’s especially good that so many SMEs are embracing apprenticeships in the coming years and that apprentice recruitment now forms a key part of a businesses’ plans for sustainable growth.”