TV’s Dragon joins the fight for Retail skills at Academy launch
TV's Dragon Theo Paphitis has joined the National Skills Academy for Retail (NSAR) as an ambassador in a move that will bring retail to the forefront of UK industry.
Launched last month, the National Skills Academy for Retail is the result of four years' worth of work by Skillsmart Retail, which works to up the skill levels of retailers throughout the country. This will be achieved through a network of training centres, or "skill shops" based on high streets and in shopping centres across the UK. All of these centres will offer a range of core services aimed at improving retail skills, including pre-employment training, apprenticeships, retail customer service, leadership and management programmes and the new Diploma in Retail Business.
Locations for the 18 skill shops announced at the launch include Cheshire Oaks, Derby, Devon, Birmingham, London, Kent, Newcastle, Sheffield and Manchester.
Most industry figures agree that there is a skills gap in retail, with too many people regarding it as a "third rate" career option. The aim of the NSAR is to attract the best possible candidates to a career in retail as well as ensuing that the current workforce of over 3 million people is world leading in terms of skills. Supporters say that the NSAR will not only bring unprecedented benefits to those who work in retail, but will benefit the entire UK economy in the fight to pull Britain out of the downturn.
The launch event was held at Centrepoint - appropriately overlooking the whole of London's West End shopping district, last month.
As well as Mr Paphitis, the event was attended by a selection of the biggest names in retail and training, including Mary 'Queen of Shops' Portas, John Lewis Partnership chairman, Charlie Mayfield, group chief executive of Kingfisher Ian Cheshire and Lord Young, Minister for Skills and Apprenticeships.
Martin Beaumont, chairman of Skillsmart Retail (pictured below left) said: "After almost four years of planning, research and development, the launch of the National Skills Academy for Retail will be a fitting occasion which recognises the hard work and commitment of dozens of dedicated partners. We welcome on board our founder skills shop members. Together, we will continue to take forward our mission to drive up skills in retail".
Skills and Apprenticeships Minister Lord Young said: "It is great to be opening the new National Skills Academy for Retail. Increasing skills in retail is vital to both the sector and the whole nation and I believe the National Skills Academy for Retail will set the benchmark for top-quality training across the country. Now is not the time to stop investing in skills. We know that employers who invest in skills now will be best placed to take advantage of the upturn when it comes.
"The launch of the National Skills Academy for Retail is clear evidence that more and more retailers are recognising that 'Now is the Time to Train'. With £7m of private sector investment in the National Skills Academy for Retail project and the support of major retailers including Marks & Spencer, Tesco, John Lewis Partnership, House of Fraser, Waitrose and Boots, the retail industry is clearly supportive of the initiative to promote and boost skills training in all sectors of the economy".
Mr Paphitis, who is also chairman of Ryman Stationery added: "I consider it an honour to be invited to talk at the launch of the National Skills Academy for Retail as Ryman employees are amongst the most experienced and best trained in the high street.
"We are in the process of adjusting our very intensive 'on the job' training programme to be in line with the Skillsmart Retail Apprentice's scheme. The National Skills Academy for Retail's accredited skills shops will be able to help both employees and employers find the right training, whether it is an Apprenticeship scheme, retail customer service programme or work experience opportunity".