Skills Minister David Lammy today announced the expansion of the National Skills Academy network with the approval of the tenth skills academy.
The National Skills Academy for Retail is joining a national network of employer-led centres of excellence.
The plan includes creating a network of 70 highly-professional retail Skills Shops in high streets and shopping centres, run individually by partnerships of local stakeholders including developers, training providers, other agencies including job centres and importantly, retailers themselves.
The National Skills Academy for Retail is proposed to create a consistent national approach for training and skills in the UK’s largest private industry sector.
Its vision is to establish and oversee the UK’s first network of local retail Skills Shops delivering consistent high quality training.
The skills academy has been designed as the definitive answer to the skills needs of retailers of all sizes, their employees and those seeking retail careers, by offering world-class training and support from pre-employment training right through to Degree level.
The plan has the industry’s substantial backing as it is widely acknowledged within retail that it is facing considerable skills and employment issues which need to be tackled as they pose a serious threat to its growth, future profitability and economic contribution.
The National Skills Academy for Retail will be a wholly-owned subsidiary of Skillsmart Retail Background and will provide access to world-class skills and business support for retailers, independent from their size and location.
It will be driven by the ambition to lead for professional rewarding careers and skills in the UK’s largest private industry sector.
Major employers supporting the skills academy include: BAA, BMB Clothing, Boots, Claire’s Accessories, Dollond & Aitchison, John Lewis Partnership, Marks & Spencer and Tesco.
Skills Academies have been created to solve specific and potentially acute skills shortages in their respective sectors, enabling employers, government and other stakeholders to design more effective solutions to training needs.
There are now ten approved National Skills Academies, representing real progress towards the Government’s target of having a Skills Academy in each major sector by the end of 2011.
Minister for Skills, David Lammy, said:
“I am delighted to announce the approval of the National Skills Academy for Retail – a vitally important sector of the economy. The Retail Academy will play a pivotal role in helping to ensure the existing and future workforce has the right skills to meet the challenges facing the sector.
“It will offer pre-employment training for those seeking employment in retail and will also offer a range of provision for retail employees right through to Degree level.
“The network is putting employers in the driving seat to shape training for their industry. It is already helping Britain face the challenge presented by the skills race – which we can and must win.
“The network will be key to supporting progression, creating jobs, tackling strategic skills shortages and driving up productivity. This important addition to the network brings us closer to meeting our aspiration for a skills academy for each major sector of the economy.”
Retail is the UK’s largest employment sector, comprising nearly 300,000 extremely diverse businesses and employing around three million people – a tenth of the UK’s workforce.
It generates sales of £265 billion, a third of UK consumer spending. By 2014 it expects to create 250,000 new jobs.
Therefore it is absolutely necessary to face challenges in the retail sector and invest heavily in skills training, qualification and the public perception of the retail sector.
Michele Roberts, Director of Skills Development Network at the LSC added:
“The network is the result of teamwork between business and Government to keep training provision at the core of these vital industries.
“We are working hard to help modernise training delivery so that it is relevant and keeps pace with employer demand. We want learners to access industry skills so they remain inspired and competitive for years to come.”
“The network has already been instrumental in raising skills levels in England, in sectors as diverse as construction, food and drink manufacturing, financial services and nuclear.
“The growth of the network is set to continue and later this year the government will be announcing which new sectors have been selected to enter the business planning phase.