From education to employment

SSC overhauls entry level retail qualifications

Entry level retail qualifications have been overhauled by Skillsmart Retail, the Sector Skills Council for UK retail skills development and promotion, to make it easier for those with low skills to progress in the sector.

In order to help the Government reach its target of 90 per cent of all adults qualified to at least Level 2 by 2020, the authority has updated the Foundation Learning Tier and Progression Pathways. The changes were made to ensure that lower level qualifications are up to scratch, and can lead on to more advanced awards.

The head of Standards and Qualifications at Skillsmart Retail, Beverley Paddey, said: "The Government wants everyone in work to reach Level 2 but there is a lot to be done to achieve this. By making sure that Level 1 and pre-Level 1 awards are up to scratch, it gives those entering the sector with few or no skills an opportunity to get on the qualifications ladder and into a skilled career."

By working with awarding organisations, Skillsmart Retail focused its work in the field on Entry Level 1 qualifications, which will be available within ‘Progression Pathways’. The Learning Skills Council and Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) scheme aims to give learners clearer progression routes towards higher level success.

A new Level 1 vocational qualification has been developed, along with new Entry Level 2 and 3 units, which can be added to generic employability qualifications to give a retail flavour.

The rules on Level 1 qualifications based on competence have also been changed so learners can get to grips with retail in mock shops rather than in a live environment. It is hoped that more learners will now be able to take a qualification where it’s difficult to get access to a real working environment.

Dylan White, strategic manager for the Foundation Learning Tier at QCA, said: "Retail is a key sector for the Foundation Learning Tier reform which will raise skills levels at Entry and Level 1. Through the development of progression pathways we will ensure that more people have the skills to progress into work or Level 2 learning.

"Skillsmart Retail has taken the lead in developing new qualifications in this important area, and the results will greatly benefit both learners and employers."

Work to offer the full range of Foundation Learning Tier qualifications is set to be completed by September 2009.

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