Our future leaders have started their Retail Leader Apprenticeship Degree

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Up to 400 students will enrol onto the first of a series of supported degrees for retail

The first cohort of students are now studying the Retail Leader Apprenticeship Degree which was the first initiative of its kind to be approved for the retail sector. The level 6 degree was developed in collaboration with the government, a number of universities and a group of retailers, including Dunelm, Tesco, Morrisons, B&Q, JD Sports, Specsavers, Morleys Department Stores and Dixons Carphone.

The programme prepares colleagues to face the challenges of leading in the evolving and dynamic retail environment of the 21st century by developing confident, capable and resilient leaders. In its first year, over £2 million worth of apprenticeship levy funds will be accessed and reinvested back into the industry. Over the four-year programme, retailers can claim back up to £22,000 of their levy funds per student.

Amy Prendergast, Director of Change, People and Learning at retailTRUST, stated: “retailTRUST is delighted to have supported the development of gRADuate, the first Retail Leader Apprenticeship Degree trailblazer. We believe this ground-breaking programme will contribute greatly over the coming years to enable those without the advantage of a degree to acquire one based upon their career choice. We see the apprenticeship degree as one of the key platforms to support the upskilling of roles which will assist the whole industry and build genuine recognition in the value of developing a career in retail.”

Andrew Lewis, Reader in Retail Executive Education at Manchester Metropolitan University, said: “We are delighted to have worked alongside retail businesses to create the new Retail Leader Apprenticeship Degree standard. Understanding the changing needs of the customer is paramount in creating value and business sustainability. The programme empowers managers to develop pertinent knowledge, skills and behaviours, to drive performance, achieve operational excellence and deliver exceptional customer service in a dynamic retail environment.”  
 

Universities currently delivering the standard

The following universities offer the Bachelor of Arts degree:

  • Sheffield Hallam University
  • Nottingham Trent University
  • University of Gloucestershire
  • Manchester Metropolitan University.

Orla Smith, Senior Lecturer in Retail Operations and Programme Lead at Manchester Metropolitan University, stated: “The Retail Leader Apprenticeship Degree will stretch and challenge students at all times, but more than that, it will help them to develop a new way of thinking about leadership and management.”
 

First cohort from Dunelm

Dunelm’s first cohort of 18 employees started the programme last October.

Adam Jones, Deputy Store Manager at Dunelm, revealed: “Before this opportunity came my way, I believed that having been in retail for so long, the bar was firmly set as to where I could progress.

With the skills and knowledge I will gain from the Retail Leader Apprenticeship Degree, I genuinely feel that the bar will be broken and I will get the opportunity to progress and develop my career in ways, I could only have dreamed possible before. It’s this reason why the apprenticeship degree is such a fantastic opportunity, not only to those who are just starting their career in retail, but to those, like me, who were beginning to think that opportunities like this had passed them by.”
 

First cohort from Dixons Carphone

Seven retail management apprentices from Dixons Carphone have also started studying the apprenticeship degree.

James Fuller, Team Leader at Dixons Carphone, explained: “It's been very challenging at times, particularly with essays to complete at the same time as working full time, but has been enjoyable, energetic and a different change of pace each day.

“Being dyslexic I never thought I was good enough to go to university, but Dixons Carphone have been very supportive and have made it possible for me to hopefully attain my degree and chartered management status. The structure that the level 6 apprenticeship provides, in the form of videos and essays rather than final exams, helps me to complete the work to the best of my ability. By the end of this apprenticeship I hope to be able to be a manager that Dixons Carphone can be proud to have working in the company.”
 

Creating the next generation of retail buyers and merchandisers

The brand new Level 4 and Level 6 Assistant Buyer and Merchandiser Apprenticeship has been approved for delivery. This programme will enable organisations to develop senior talent across their buying and merchandising functions, bringing the world of business and education closer together.

For more information about how the Assistant Buyer and Merchandiser Apprenticeship can work for your business, email Amy Prendergast at [email protected]