High street retailers launch workplace degree scheme

High street retailers launch workplace degree scheme

Aurora Fashions, which owns women's fashion brands Coast, Oasis and Warehouse, has introduced a year-long training course for staff which will contribute towards a full degree at the University of Derby Corporate, it was announced on Friday.

The course is designed for existing workers at any stage in their career, from sales assistants to area managers, and will cover the basics in fashion retail management, such as customer service, merchandising and staff management.

The scheme follows a growing trend for employers to teach young people industry-relevant skills "on-the-job" – tailoring skills training to their specific needs – rather than recruit from university or colleges.

McDonalds, Flybe and Network Rail first offered training to their staff, equivalent to A-levels and degrees, in 2008. The courses are seen by young people as a popular alternative to going to college or university, as they can earn while they learn and gain practical experience, making them attractive recruits in future.

Employers are increasingly teaming up with universities to offer such schemes as they can better control course content to produce "job-ready" candidates, rather than rely on the higher education system, which many experts say is misaligned to the needs of industry.

Up to 150 people will go on the first Aurora Fashions pilot course, launching this month, which is a combination of online and practical learning.

The retail brands hope the scheme will encourage youngsters to pursue long-term careers in an industry which is often seen as a "stop gap" before other jobs.

Meg Lustman, Managing Director of Warehouse said: “We hope to inspire existing staff, and those considering entering the industry, to be ambitious about a long-term career in the fast paced world of fashion retail."

At Warehouse, one design student will also work alongside the company's design team involved in creating the collections to gain key hands-on experience. Students are also given the opportunity to sell their debut collection in stores, as part of the scheme.

The move comes as almost two fifths of young people believe that it should be compulsory for large companies to offer work experience placements.

The survey of 504 young people, by Vision Critical, found that 70% of young people also think work experience should be mandatory for school pupils.

Among the benefits of work experience is that it exposes students to the daily routine of a working day and allows them to familiarise themselves with systems used within the workplace, the research, commissioned by banking group Santander, found.

The bank is taking on 46 work experience students this summer, in paid placements lasting six weeks, as part of a drive to bridge the gap between industry and education.

Simon Lloyd, HR director at Santander, said: “This research underlines the importance of internship programmes to students, with the majority believing in compulsory, equal-opportunities work experience."

This article was originally featured on telegraph.co.uk/finance/jobs

Monday, 16 July 2012

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