Advertising Work Experience Placements

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Work experience placements offer retailers a way of drawing in new talent and promote careers in the industry

Why are we talking about this now?

Tesco, House of Fraser and Spar are offering work experience placements to support the diploma in retail business provided by Skillsmart Retail to 14- to 19-year-olds.

The course will run in 55 areas nationwide from September. Tesco, Spar and House of Fraser will all offer at least one placement in all of their stores in these areas. This equates to 30 House of Fraser stores and 368 Tesco stores. Spar has not yet stated how many shops will participate.

Separately, Asda said last week that it will offer 15,000 work experience places to 14- and 16-year-olds this year, with every new starter receiving City & Guilds-accredited training.

How will such schemes help retailers?

A Skillsmart survey in February showed that a third of retailers found that younger job applicants did not have relevant experience in retail, and 27% reported that they lacked motivation and initiative.

Tesco human resources project manager Louise Woodley says: “We want to spot young people on the course who are really keen and motivated, and pass them on information about our own training programmes so that when they finish school, they want them to apply for them.”

Skillsmart Retail diploma partnership manager Fiona Stubbs says the diploma and experience would fast-track recruits into management programmes, cut staff turnover and create a seamless training programme.

Store staff can act as “buddies”to students as part of their training. House of Fraser will provide such “buddies” and is also considering prioritising diploma students when recruiting.

How will they affect perceptions of retail careers?

Public opinion is often that retail is about stacking shelves, but the aim of the diploma is to represent retail as a career choice. House Fraser chief executive John King says: “By getting involved retailers can show off the dynamic nature of the industry.”

Why are retailers announcing these schemes now?

1 million people under the age of 25 are unemployed and a third of the retail workforce - about 1 million people - are 16- to 24-year-olds. So it is important that retail training helps prevent youth unemployment.

Skillsmart Retail chief executive Anne Seaman says: “Retailers feel it’s their corporate social responsibility to be concerned about the young jobless population, but they also see a business benefit in training them.”

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