Pilot scheme to provide top training for retail staff

A NEW pilot scheme has been announced by the Department of Employment and Learning (DEL) which will provide subsidised training to retailers in a range of areas including customer service.

The announcement was made at the launch of the new training outlet of the Greater Belfast Retail Skills Shop, based at South Eastern Regional College (SERC). The training, which will be delivered by the SERC trainers, will give delegates the opportunity to achieve an NVQ qualification.

Announcing the Department’s funding, Employment and Learning minister Dr. Stephen Farry, said: “Skills are a crucial element in rebuilding and rebalancing our economy. I am committed to the up-skilling of our workforce, and to addressing skills shortages and skills mismatches. This initiative endorses my Department’s commitment to retail as one of the priority sectors of the economy and focuses on how my Department will engage with businesses.

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“I commend the co-operation between the various stakeholders in bringing forward this innovative programme which I believe will help the retail sector build and develop its skills base now and for the future.”

Also at the event, Glyn Roberts from Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) welcomed the announcement from DEL and commented; “For independent retailers the need has never been greater for training and continuous improvement in order to develop the retail entrepreneurs of the future.

Andrew Irvine from Belfast City Centre Management, which endorses the training programme, commented: “Customer service is critical for retention, that’s why we are happy to endorse these courses; we believe that small retailers need to continue to up skill staff in order to remain competitive.”

There is currently a network of sixty Retail Skills Shops operate across the UK. Suzi Donnelly, coordinator of the SERC lead, Greater Belfast Retail Skills Shop said, “This gives local retailers the opportunity to compete with national retailers and also with online retailers, by building up the standard of customer service, it is proven that this will create customer loyalty in the long term.”