The British Retail Consortium has said that working in the retail sector and gaining workplace qualifications is an ever more viable possibility for school leavers, looking to avoid the perils of heavy university debt. The leading retail body is to host a debate on the issue at the Labour Party Conference this morning, aiming to discuss whether entering the workplace from the age of 16 is preferable to going to university. With university courses now about to start for the academic year and students facing £9000 costs per year from 2012, the BRC notes that that retailers are investing an average of £1,275 per employee in training each year, accounting for over 12 per cent of the UK’s total training spend.
BRC director, Stephen Robertson says, “Many young people considering university will be worried about building up huge debts which will take years to pay off,” he said. “An alternative is to get a job which gives access to training and personal development funded by an employer while also picking up a salary. That option is getting more attractive all the time.”
This appeal by the BRC comes after FashionUnited have brought you stories on a spate of top retailers launching specific trainee programmes for both school leavers and graduates, including John Lewis and Sainsburys.
Robertson added, “There must be an end to the snobbery about workplace qualifications,” he commented. “Given the rising cost of getting a university education and falling employment prospects for young people, degree level education is becoming less relevant for some. We owe it to our young people to challenge the dominance of degrees and let them get the appropriate level of credit for skills and experiences they pick up while in work. In retail you really can start on the shop floor and work your way to the top. Many well-known retail chief executives have done just that.”