Leading clothing and furniture retailer Next is to hire 1,000 new apprentices as part of a new employment programme, it was confirmed today.
Those selected for the course will undergo six months of training with the aim of achieving a Level 2 Apprenticeship consisting of a Level 2 diploma in retail and a certificate in retail knowledge and key skills (numeracy and literacy).
The UK government has already promised an additional £500 million for spending on the one million young people classed as not in education, employment or training, and Skills Minister John Hayes MP has backed Next’s initiative.
“This is yet more good news for our apprenticeship programme and marks another important milestone,” Hayes said.
“The commitment by Next to train 1,000 young people using modern apprenticeships is great news and shows the flexibility and versatility of the apprenticeship.
“I look forward to hearing more about the Next programme and perhaps in the future meeting some of the young people who have been recruited and qualified under the programme.”
Next is one of the major high street retailers managing to improve profitability during this trading downturn, thanks to smart efficiency measures and close cost control.
The number of full-time positions in retail fell during the second quarter of 2011, according to data from the British Retail Consortium and Bond Pearce, making Next’s contribution to retail employment all the more valuable.
British workers are thought to be 15 per cent less productive than their international rivals according to the government and one fifth of UK adults are thought to be functionally illiterate or innumerate.
Next’s programme, run by Pera Training, is said by government to be just the sort of instruction that young people in this country need.
Richard Grice, Managing Director of Pera Training, said: “Next, one of the UK’s leading high street retailers already had a well-developed training programme, but wanted to move this to the next level, with formal accreditation and a nationally recognised programme. A modern apprenticeship does exactly this.
“We are delighted to be partners with Next in delivering this apprenticeship programme and are confident that where Next leads others will follow.”