Middlesbrough College has partnered with the National Skills Academy (NSA) for an initiative aimed at paving the way for young people hoping to enter the world of retail.
The NSA runs so-called Retail Skills Shops throughout the country and has chosen the college to cover the Durham and Tees Valley areas.
In practice, the move means employers, such as major supermarkets, who contact the Academy while recruiting or launching apprenticeship opportunities, will be directed to the college when on the look-out for potential talent in the North East.
A coordinated approach can then be taken, with marketing taking places from both sides. The college would also provide training and guidance before interviews take place.
The Retail Skills Shop is the only one of its kind in the area, the nearest is 30 miles away.
Academic institutions must have a ‘good’ rating - as in Middlesbrough College’s case - or above in order to be considered for such a partnership.
The college already works closely with employers such as Aldi, and is hopeful that, as well as strengthening its existing links, the skills shop will generate interest from other major businesses.
Middlesbrough College principal and chief executive Zoe Lewis said: “Middlesbrough College recognises that retail is the largest private sector employer in the UK, with 291,000 businesses, three million employees and an annual turnover of £265bn, which is why we were compelled to open the Retail Skills Shop.
“We are firmly committed to ensuring the residents of Teesside, North Yorkshire and County Durham have access to the best facilities, the best training and the best opportunities possible to help them fulfil their ambitions and achieve success.”
Neil Moss, NSA head of business solutions, said: “We are delighted to welcome Middlesbrough College to the NSA for Retail national network.
“Our partnership with high quality training organisations like Middlesbrough College is vital to ensure that together we can support leading retail employers like Aldi to recruit talented young people to the Aldi Apprenticeship Scheme and help develop them into the store managers of the future for this highly successful company.
“Middlesbrough College has first-class facilities to support retail-specific training combined with an excellent team led by Lynne Alderson, director of programmes for retail and Anthony O’Donnell, head of business development, who we look forward to working with.”
He added that the NSA’s offer including everything from delivering “gold-standard customer service training” used by some of the world’s biggest and best-known brands to advice on how to write a CV and make a positive impression in interviews.
Aldi is one of the largest retail apprenticeship providers in the UK, with Middlesbrough College delivering the application process for the company and identifying suitable candidates for the 21 positions currently available in Teesside, County Durham and North Yorkshire.
Aldi apprentices are trained in all aspects of retail management within three years, the first consisting of store assistant training, the second of store management training, and the third focussing on working towards a title of Deputy Manager upon completion.
Middlesbrough College is providing training for the Aldi apprentices to achieve the rare Retail Apprenticeship Level 3 qualification.
Wayne Boulton, Aldi area manager, said: “The partnership with Middlesbrough College is already proving hugely beneficial and the skills shop is a great way of helping people into their chosen career.
“We look forward to working with the College team to make it a huge success.”