Support secured to simplify Apprenticeships for independent retailers

Skillsmart Retail and the National Skills Academy for Retail have been given support from the National Apprenticeship Service, to run a programme to help independent retailers offer Apprenticeships.


The Retail Apprenticeship Training Agency (RATA), set to launch nationwide in the autumn, will provide a simplified way for independent retailers to offer Apprenticeships. Smaller retailers will also be able to benefit from the National Apprenticeship Service’s Apprenticeship grants to small and medium sized employers.  £1,500 is being made available to 40,000 SME businesses that recruit 16 to 24 year olds, to encourage new employers to take on apprentices.


Last year, over 11,000 Retail Apprenticeships were completed in England alone. Despite accounting for 90% of retail businesses in the UK, very few of these Apprenticeships were employed in independent shops.


Bureaucracy, cost and risk of taking on new employees are common reasons identified by independent retailers for not offering Apprenticeships. RATA aims to remove these difficulties, providing a simple service that benefits both the retailers and young people.


The young person, aged 16-18, will be employed by RATA and hired out to the independent retailer who will pay for a year’s placement whilst they complete their Apprenticeship. RATA will take responsibility for all pre-employment and on-the-job training as well as pastoral care of the young person.


Anne Seaman, Chief Executive for Skillsmart Retail said: “The key to this programme is to get local young people into jobs in their local shops. We know there is a strong interest but independent retailers have been put off in the past by the apparent complexity of setting up, or taking on, an apprentice. RATA is being developed to overcome this, designed especially for small retail businesses. We’re delighted to be able to offer a service which is affordable and hassle-free.”


Skillsmart Retail and the National Skills Academy for Retail, which are currently leading the Independents’ Daycampaign to celebrate diversity in retail, see RATA as a platform to encourage young people to consider a career in retail.


Anne Seaman continued: “Independent retailers can offer something unique to apprentices.  The young person will be working closely with owners, learning directly from them about all areas of the business. This mentoring way of working will give apprentices all the retail skills they need to build a career in the sector as well as the business acumen and confidence to think about starting their own business.”

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