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BRC: Use apprenticeships to develop skills for future retail needs

Trade Association the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has called on retailers, government and educators to better promote the breadth of job opportunities offered by the industry – both traditional roles and those to meet the sector’s future needs.

On the first day of National Apprenticeship Week 2018, the trade body emphasised the industry’s commitment to increasing the number of apprenticeships it offers but also highlighted the opportunity these programmes offer to advance the sector’s skill base.

It said the retail industry is going through a period of significant transformation, which is changing the nature and shape of the workforce. With new technologies entering the workplace and the growth of higher skilled roles, it stated, apprenticeships present a chance to position retail for this evolution.

A survey of BRC members conducted in February found that 21% reported difficulties recruiting for apprenticeships, particularly for the less traditional retail roles such as software engineers and food technologists. Some 86% indicated they would increase the number of apprenticeships they offer in the next two years.

Helen Dickinson, CEO of the BRC, said: “National Apprenticeship Week is a great opportunity to celebrate apprenticeships and raise awareness of the opportunities out there.

“In our industry alone, apprenticeship opportunities span customer facing positions, specialist digital and technical roles, support functions and there are more standards still in development.”

She added: “Almost a year after the Apprenticeship Levy was introduced these figures demonstrate the industry’s ongoing commitment to apprenticeships. But there are still issues with the levy that need to be resolved to allow the industry to do more and further flexibility is still needed.”

The BRC said, in England, retailers are committed to increasing the number of higher and advanced apprenticeships offered in 2017-18 by more than 2.5 times compared to the previous year.

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