From education to employment

Retail qualifications to be overhauled

Retail qualifications are set to be easier to understand after a Skillsmart Retail strategy to reform them was approved.

The plan to streamline all retail qualifications, The Sector Qualifications Strategy for Retail, was agreed by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) this month.

It could mean an end to the current complex qualifications system and see an increase in the number of employees gaining recognised qualifications that benefit employers.

Among the changes that the strategy will bring will be that qualifications could align to in-house training and current business practices, which would allow retailers to have their in-house training accredited as national qualifications or units within these qualifications.

Qualifications would also be made more flexible and able to be gained through credits awarded for each bite-sized chunk of learning undertaken. Skillsmart Retail, with the support of the retailers, also hopes to reduce the red tape attached to accessing funding.

Beverley Paddey, Head of Standards and Qualifications at Skillsmart Retail, said:

“Courses and qualifications that deliver much needed technical knowledge can make a real difference to retail businesses but we know that employers often find it hard to understand what the current 150 retail qualifications deliver.

“Under this new strategy, all retail qualifications will be rationalised into a set of national qualifications with consistent titling, making it more straight forward for employers to help their staff to get transferable qualifications.

“Our research also shows that staff with qualifications feel more valued and are more likely to stay with their employer. The easier access that the strategy promises will encourage employees and retailers to take them up, which can only be a good thing.”

David Richardson, Learning and Development Manager at House of Fraser, said:

“The new strategy will be a great way to really build skills and aid retention within the retail sector. It seems to be a much more pragmatic approach, where the qualifications can be tailored to match what businesses are already doing, and therefore working more in partnership with retail businesses and helping them develop the skills of their teams.”

The strategy was developed by Skillsmart Retail with the help of employers including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, House of Fraser, Fortnum and Mason and the John Lewis Partnership as well awarding bodies including City & Guilds, OCR, EDI, SQA and Edexcel, and national qualification regulators.

It will be implemented over the next two years and the full document is available on the Skillsmart Retail website. A leaflet explaining its benefits is at:

Anyone requiring further information should contact James Stockdale on [email protected] or 0207 462 5060


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