Training, development and accreditation

Adult learners studying

Instinct, gut feeling and anecdotal knowledge are some of the aspects that have been driving forward schemes on the high street for years. Moving away from this and encouraging a culture where training, development and accreditation are prerequisites is a necessity. This cultural shift has already begun and here are some reasons why:

96. Professional accreditation for town centre managers

The Institute of Place Management is the first international membership organisation dedicated to professionalising the place management industry. Individual town centre managers can join to receive regular place-related updates, access to monthly continuing professional development (CPD) opportunities, and the 'Journal of Place Management and Development', published by Emerald. In addition, there are opportunities for networking with other members.

Local authorities and town centre partnerships can also join as approved partners, affording multiple benefits and demonstrating a certified commitment to making places better.

Institute of Place Management website

97. Support for the retail property industry

While many retailers need flexibility in leasing conditions to help their business adapt to changing times, many property owners hope for stability because of the nature of their long-term investments. These two conflicting needs make the retail property industry a unique and challenging sector.

Town centre managers can support retail property owners by pointing them towards credible trade associations, such as the British Council of Shopping Centres (BCSC) and the British Property Federation (BPF). They will be able to help them develop new ideas to contribute to a healthy high street.

The BCSC and the BPF can each provide services including education and professional development. They also offer networking opportunities with others in the industry and assistance in forming partnerships locally to create vibrant high streets.

98. Auditing the quality of your town's retail offer

More than 80 towns across the UK, from Aberdeen to Wrexham, have benefited from audits designed to pinpoint improvements that could be made to independent shops, as well as how the town centres could be improved as a whole. The Location Model, designed by Skillsmart Retail and the Sector Skills Council for Retail, includes a mystery shopping exercise, street interviews and a town centre assessment. These are all carried out by industry professionals who also work for some of the country's biggest and most famous retailers.

Many towns throughout the UK have struggled with their retail offer in recent times. While there is no easy solution, Skillsmart Retail's Location Model gives independent retailers, and stakeholders, intelligence and a series of practical recommendations that will help the development of a diverse retail sector. Town centre managers have been at the forefront of this initiative in towns which have taken part so far, and many have found funding to be able to participate.

99. Pointing retailers towards advice on training

A network of retail skills shops with advice on hand to meet the training needs of retailers have opened in shopping centres throughout the country. Their aim is to improve retail skills through a network of retail skills shops located in shopping centres and on high streets throughout the country.

Retail employers and employees, as well as those hoping to enter the sector, can walk into or contact any retail skills shop to access the training on offer. As a town centre manager, you can point retailers in your town to their local retail skills shop, where they will find everything from pre-employment training and licence to trade courses, to management and leadership programmes.

More and more skills shops are opening throughout the country.

Find your closest retail skills shop – on the National Skills Academy for Retail (NSAR) website.

100. Learn from a real-life retail expert

Being launched in 2010, the Mary Portas Guide to Successful Retailing is a series of seven insightful masterclasses offered by the NSAR. Delivered through retail skills shops, the Mary Portas Guide provides a unique opportunity to learn from one of the UK's most respected retail experts, in areas such as merchandising, selling, display, buying and marketing. This is a perfect opportunity for retailers in your town to tap into Mary Portas' knowledge without breaking the bank.

Mary Portas masterclasses – on the NSAR website.

101. Become a retail ambassador

Many who manage the high street have experience within the retail sector. There are hundreds of thousands of people involved in retail all over the country, who are perfect candidates to become retail ambassadors. They can help promote the sector as a place where rewarding careers can be developed.

The retail ambassador programme has been designed by Skillsmart Retail and is being delivered through the National Skills Academy for Retail, to allow retail professionals at all levels to champion the sector to young people in schools and colleges. Ambassadors are needed from shop floor to boardroom level. They must be motivated people, prepared to relate personal experiences and real-life scenarios to help capture the imagination of young people, raise awareness of the range of jobs in retail and present the sector in a positive light.

Many town centre managers will make perfect ambassadors. All ambassadors are trained to deliver the presentations and given full support and materials.

For ambassador training dates and an application form to register to become an Ambassador, as well as information on how to book an Ambassador for a school or college event in your town, visit the National Skills Academy for Retail website.

Retail ambassador programme – on the NSAR website

102. Encourage junior managers to apply to Oxford Summer School

The Oxford Summer School is the 'jewel in the crown' of UK retail training and the first destination many junior managers will have circled in red for the summer.

Skillsmart Retail and the Retail Trust are joining forces to offer 10 scholarships to attend the Oxford Summer School unique centre of excellence for free. This means retailers in your town can learn all the tips to reaching the top from the biggest names in the industry.

This is a credible course which counts Ian Cheshire, Charlie Mayfield, Nick Robertson and Peter Williams among its past speakers. These leading stars of retail have all commended the City and Guilds-accredited programme for its ability to enhance expertise in leading successful teams. The course includes monitoring stock performance, improving financial management, marketing the business and visual merchandising.

Skillsmart Retail and Retail Trust are urging every junior manager from retail businesses with less than 1,000 employees to apply. Aside from the learning, an enviable list of evening events will give delegates the perfect chance to let their hair down and network with representatives from some of retail's biggest businesses.

Oxford Summer School website

103. Get young learners to learn through retail

Young adults training

There will be hundreds, if not thousands, of school and college students in your town, all looking to work out what direction they will take in their education and in the working world. For many, the traditional GCSE and 'A' level option will seem the most appropriate, but others  will seek something with more of an emphasis on vocational studies, while losing none of the academic rigour.

From September this year, students aged 14 to 19 years will have the option to take the new Diploma in Retail Business – a qualification designed by top retailers to provide a way into the sector. Championed by John King, CEO of House of Fraser, the Diploma in Retail Business will combine elements crucial to working in retail, while also providing a thorough grounding in subjects such as English and maths. This is to ensure it is a qualification which is valued in all sectors, not just in retail.

104. Know what qualifications are out there

The retail qualification system in the UK used to be a minefield with hundreds and of different courses available. Under the new vocational qualification reform, however, navigating your way through what is available couldn't be easier.

Designed by Skillsmart Retail, delivered by the National Skills Academy for Retail and regulated by top awarding organisations, there is now a simple structure in place for each of the four UK nations. Brochures detailing current retail qualifications are available to download from the Skillsmart Retail Careers pages.

105. Local business awards

Having an awards event for local businesses can bring many benefits to the town centre. Achieving an award for a credible competition is a great boost to the confidence for those who are successful, or even just nominated. Awards act as a marketing tool which managers can use to grow and develop the business.

From the consumer perspective, an award acts as a quality mark meaning visitors have a way of spotting the best a high street has to offer. There can even be a positive affect for those businesses who are not nominated by the scheme. Awards showcase best practice allowing other managers to learn new techniques and develop their business if they aspire to participate in future events.

Huddersfield Town Centre Partnership has had success developing a scheme which celebrates environmental best practice. The Green Business Awards showcase businesses who adopt measures to reduce their environmental impact through reduced energy, water, transport, and waste disposal, encouraging other businesses to follow suit.


1 June 2015

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