Partners Southampton Solent University - is a dynamic and distinctive new university dedicated to academic excellence, social justice and the integration of theory and practice. We have strong local roots within Southampton and its region, working closely with the city, the community, employers and voluntary organisations. In recent years, the University has pioneered new subject areas and curriculum approaches to higher education. Traditionally strong in what used to be called ‘vocational subjects’, many of its courses enjoy professional body recognition and accreditation with real–world experience built into its courses.
Brockenhurst College -a Beacon College with approximately 3,000 Sixth Form and International students, numerous Employers and 8,000 Adult Learners. Ranked Outstanding by OFSTED, it is a national Centre of Vocational Excellence in Applied IT for Business, Early Years, Playwork and Children's Services and Leadership and Management. It also leads a South East region Centre of Vocational Excellence in Tourism and Hospitality. Brockenhurst College runs the Southampton Retail Skills Shop delivering level 1, 2 and 3 qualifications focusing on the up-skilling of existing employees in the retail sector and training for those switching into the sector
Skillsmart Retail –is the Sector Skills Council for Retail. Part-funded by Government and led by retailers, the aim is to be the recognised authority on retailers’ skills needs and priorities. Their mission is to drive a step change in skills levels in retail by:
Making a compelling case for the formal recognition of retail skills
Uniting retailers to simplify and improve access to the skills system
Improving the quality of new recruits into the retail sector
Raising the skills levels of the existing workforce in retail operations
Run by retailers for retailers, Skillsmart Retail operates under licence to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
Introduction The lead partners, Southampton Solent University and Brockenhurst College have been working with local employers in the retail sector to assess and respond to their skill and training needs. Progression to level 2/3 is currently delivered through the Retail Skills Shop, hosted by Southampton Solent and delivered by Brockenhurst College.
Barrier Educational provision in the region effectively ends at Level 3. Skillsmart Retail Ltd. (the sector skills council for retail) has been working with local employers to identify skill needs. It has been established that there is significant need for progression beyond level 3 to level 4 (building from advanced apprenticeship) but for employers and learners there is uncertainty about the financial and time commitment of embarking on a full Foundation Degree. Retailers are also expressing the view that there is a lack of appropriate provision to move staff from “operational” to “strategic” and that a Level 7 qualification developed with their close involvement may help to bridge this gap.
Proposition Our proposal is to develop an integrated set of progression ladders that provide clear pathways via credit accumulation and transfer for Retail from level 1 through to level 7. Provision will be highly flexible, allowing for professional development to progress in line with employer and learner need, by providing 20 CAT professional development units that can be accumulated for progression to higher levels. We will be working with the Retail Consortium led By Manchester Metropolitan, to utilise the National Retail Foundation Degree with a level 6 top-up and ultimately, level 7, from Southampton Solent, if there is sufficient demand.
Rationale With the establishment of ‘West Quay phase 4’ it is intended to make Southampton city the key retail destination in southern England, which it is estimated will create 1000 new jobs. Educational provision for the retail sector in the region is currently patchy and not connected and effectively ends at level 3. Employers have stated that they would like to have a progression route that extends to level 5 and, in some cases, up to level 7. This project will create a ‘step on, step off’ progression approach that is readily adaptable, developing a clear and unbroken progression route, whilst allowing flexibility to meet employer/learner needs.
Evaluation A panel of industry representatives and Skillsmart Retail will review and evaluate the success of the approach of credit accumulation versus full degree and how effective the approach is to removing blockages to progression. Key findings and recommendations from stakeholders will be disseminated to partners, funders and other interested parties
Transferability We believe that this model may provide more flexible routes for employers and learners to progress and provide a greater degree of customisation through selection of units relevant to employer and learner needs at specific points in their development. We will also be working with the Skillsmart to explore how these developments can contribute to the formation of a professional body in retail skills, which is a priority for Skillsmart Retail.
Being based on flexibility, blended and workplace learning, the delivery model would be capable of being disseminated and adapted to address other sectors, Tourism and Leisure being a strong contender.