Vocational support

Vocational support

We provide a suite of career development services to help you recruit fresh talent, and develop and support your employees.


Recruiting talent

Working with trusted training providers and the AEB, we partner with retailers to support active jobseekers into a new career in retail. Through the delivery of short courses, we support people with the key skills and attributes they need to be ready for their new role. The delivery of traineeships is a great way for 16-24 year olds to gain the relevant work experience and skills needed for their new career. Over the course of eight weeks, applicants will be in work learning all aspects of the role with close guidance from current staff and a one-to-one weekly session with a skills tutor – covering off such things as functional skills and customer service.  



We’re here to guide you by:
• Providing impartial guidance, support and advice
• Helping you to understand what the levy means for your business and the options that are available
• Offering the latest updates on the levy announcements
• Supporting you in finding the right provider to deliver your provision through our network of trusted providers
• Facilitating the development of the new apprenticeship standards for retail.

Working closely with employers and universities, we have developed a suite of retail apprenticeship degrees. The level 6 programmes will help retail staff at all levels benefit from higher education and will enable businesses to use their levy monies effectively. These are the first initiatives of their kind for retail which combine real-world best practice with innovative academic thinking.

The apprenticeship degrees will bring the world of business and education closer together by developing the high-level technical skills needed for retail jobs of the future. The standards also provide a progression pathway to develop new and existing employees.

• The Level 6 Retail Leader Apprenticeship Degree is available for delivery. It will prepare participants to face the challenges of leading in the evolving and dynamic retail environment of the 21st century. The programme is delivered through a blended learning approach over a four year period (this is flexible). Employers can draw down up to £22,000 of their levy monies for this standard. Click here for more information and to view the standard.

• The Level 6 Assistant Buyer and Merchandiser Apprenticeship is available for delivery. The programme will develop senior talent in buying and merchandising and enable you to enhance your offer of a career in retail. Over the 24-month programme, you can claim back up to £10,000 of your levy funds per student. Click here for more information and to view the standard.

Find out how colleagues from Dunelm and Dixons Carphone are getting on with their apprenticeship degrees.  


Ongoing support through coaching and mentoring

Access to coaching and mentoring services help employees continually develop within your business. Our elevator mentoring programme in memory of Don McCarthy CBE ‘sends the elevator back down’ to those aspiring individuals who will benefit from the experience and expertise of mentors in their given field.

About the late Don McCarthy CBE

Don McCarthy CBE (19 June 1955 – 21 July 2018) was a British businessman who made his reputation in footwear retailing, first with Kurt Geiger, then with the Shoe Studio Group. Latterly he moved into general fashion retailing after acquiring the Rubicon Retail fashion business in 2005. From late 2006 to mid-2014 he was Executive Chairman of the House of Fraser department store group. Don was an active investor in retail businesses through his own fund, No 9 Investments Ltd. Privately he was a generous donor to charities, a great philanthropist and proud ambassador of retailTRUST.

He was well known for his mantra: “When you get to the top of your career, send the elevator back down for someone else.”

We are working closely with Don’s family to help individuals progress their retail careers through this programme.  


Educational grants

We offer non-repayable grants to support your employees and their dependants with university costs. Click here for more details about our grants programme.  


Return to work initiatives

Working in partnership with your business, we can support the upskilling of employees who may be facing redundancy or returning to work following a career break. By delivering personal and practical workshops, we provide individuals with both the relevant life and digital skills to take up other opportunities across the industry or your business.

We worked in partnership with Ufi Charitable Trust, the House of Fraser Foundation and Sports Direct to support the upskilling of employees, ensuring that individuals had both the relevant life and digital skills to take up other opportunities across the industry. Click here for more details.  


*Funding rules currently apply to England only.

Get in touch

For more information, please contact Amy Prendergast our Director of Change, People and Learning at [email protected]