Our Strands

Strand 1

Strand 1: pre-employment support and development

Are you an individual thinking about a career in Retail?

Strand 1 Serving a customerWe offer pre-employment support and advice including the Retail Works course which has been developed in close collaboration with recognised High Street retail brands such as John Lewis as we’ll as many independent retailers to provide a practical and down to earth introduction and first steps in retail.

Getting a foot in the door in retail can lead to a long and successful career with good salaries and flexibility. Whether you’re more interested in interacting with customers on the shop floor or behind the scenes in head office, it is a sector that rewards hard work and commitment.

A job in retail isn’t just standing behind a till!

There are around 290,000 retail businesses in the UK with 3 million people working across departments as varied as HR, visual merchandising, operations, marketing, buying and IT. In each there are a variety of job roles from first rung to the top floor and it doesn’t matter what level you start at, this is an industry with a wealth of opportunities to progress.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve just left full-time education, are looking to move on from your current role or you have been unemployed for a while, retail is a great next move. Start your journey today with Retail Works

Are you an employer who wishes to tap into alternative methods of staff recruitment and development?

Strand 2

Strand 2 – In work development

Once in retail, you now have the opportunity to grow! But you’ll need information. Contact us to find out how this dynamic industry works, what you might earn and the variety of routes in…

  • Store Operations
  • Merchandising
  • Buying
  • Human Resources
  • Marketing and PR
  • Visual Merchandising
  • IT
  • Logistics
  • Finance

Retail Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships are a programme of work-based and training that leads to a nationally recognised qualification. They make a real difference to large and small retail businesses and are a great way to harness talent and ensure that your workforce has the practical skills and qualifications your business needs, both now and in the future.


You recruit the right people!!

Taking on an apprentice is a good way to address short-term recruitment problems. Often retail businesses take on the apprentices they work with when the apprenticeship is over.

Improved skills – The programme equips employees with the knowledge and skills they need to perform to the bets of their best abilities in the workplace, which then reflects on you.

Greater staff retention – Employees that begin an Apprenticeship or apprentices that are recruited by the business feel valued and informed about how and why the business works.

Increased productivity – The flexible and varied nature of the programme makes sure that all apprentices develop the knowledge, skills and confidence to help you achieve your business objectives and means that the programme can be tailored to meet the needs of the individual learner.

Enhanced competitiveness – Implementing Apprenticeships in the business can help you recruit the right people, be recognised as an employer of choice and contribute to the success of your business. Training a new generation of retail professionals will help you stay competitive.


How do Apprenticeships work?

Whilst in employment, apprentices work towards qualifications that give them practical skills, breadth of knowledge and understanding, all of which help them to do a better job.

The qualifications within the Apprenticeship programme offer the flexibility of optional units and pathways that are tailored to retail sub-sectors. The programme also includes literacy and numeracy skills.

This on-the-job training leads to nationally recognised qualifications. Throughout the programme your apprentice will be guided by trainers and assessors, they will also be given one-to-one support and advice throughout the programme.

How do Apprenticeships fit in with your existing business?

Apprenticeships are work-based training programmes and the majority of the training is ‘on-the-job’ at your store, with the direct support of a line manager. A skills shop provides the rest of their training. If you have appropriately qualified trainers in your business, you may be able to deliver this training in-house.

What is the cost?

Government funding might be available to support Apprenticeship programmes. There are national guidelines in place which identify how much is available to support adults and/or young people and how the contracting processes operate in each of the nations.

Strand 3

Strand 3 – Management development

ILM Certificate in First Line Management Level 3

This innovative qualification is aimed at first line managers who have little management or supervisory experience, and managers who have been promoted from the shop floor but who have had no formal development. The qualification then provides a sound basis for equipping candidates in core management skills. Successful candidates will be awarded the ILM Level 3 Award in Effective Management

Key Objectives

  • To provide individuals with the skills, knowledge and confidence to develop core management and leadership skills
  • To enable participants to both motivate staff, and to build and develop high performing teams
  • To appreciate how change is both planned and implemented
  • To act as an effective problem solver and budget holder
  • To enable participants to act as effective communicators delivering focused briefings and presentations


ILM Workshop in Managing for Efficiency and Effectiveness Level 5

This workshop is aimed at middle managers seeking to improve their efficiency and effectiveness in the workplace. The key components of this workshop are:

  • Assessing the organisations ability to translate strategic goals into operational objectives
  • Measurable organisational, team and individual objectives
  • Delegation for Results
  • Monitoring techniques for efficiency and effectiveness
  • Measurable organisational, team and individual objectives
  • Using Feedback to critically evaluate your own performance
  • Personal Development Planning
  • Effective Time Management Strategies
  • Planning techniques for success
  • Closing the loop for continuous improvement…a holistic approach

The workshops will be highly participative and interactive, challenging individuals to reflect on their own performance and current practices in the workplace.  We also offer the option to candidates of completing an assignment and registering with the ILM for this to contribute towards a Level 5 Award, Certificate or Diploma Leadership and Management Programme with the ILM

Strand 4

Strand 4 – Compliance

Compliance Training





Why should I stay compliant?

  • To ensure you and your staff are fully trained and aware of individual responsibilities
  • To keep you and your team safe
  • To put you and your team on the right side of the law

Available courses:

  • Health and Safety
  • Responsible Alcohol Retailing
  • Underage Sales Prevention
  • Restricted Products
  • Sale of Goods Act
  • Accident Reporting and Investigation
  • Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH)
  • Manual Handling
  • Work Related Stress Management
  • Understanding and Preventing Violence and Aggression



Strand 5

Strand 5 – NSA for Retail support

The Guide to Successful Retailing – Inspired by Mary Portas

The Guide to Successful Retailing is a series of business courses developed specifically to give managers working in retail the skills and insight required to take their department, business or themselves to the next level. Over three courses, learners get the skills, knowledge and tools needed to progress their careers as well as the opportunity to network with other retailers just like them.

The three courses cover the essential skills needed to run a profitable and sustainable retail business:

v  Retail Finance & Business Planning

v  Driving Sales through Marketing

v  Buying & Visual Merchandising


What is WorldHost Retail?

Customer service is a key differentiator in an increasingly competitive market and 75% of retailers identify it as the biggest reason customers walk away from a sale. This means that getting it right is not just a luxury; it is a necessity!

WorldHost Retail is a new standard of excellence for customer service and selling skills in the UK. The National Skills Academy for Retail secured the exclusive licence to deliver a package of retail customer service training used to train staff and volunteers at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.

Well-trained retail managers with strong customer service skills are essential for successful retail businesses; staff that demonstrate professional customer service skills can significantly improve customer satisfaction and customer loyalty.

To date, nearly one million people have been successfully trained using WorldHost in over 20 countries. The programmes are engaging and energetic, offering a comprehensive training toolkit and topical DVD and CD scenarios.

Participants on these certificated programmes gain valuable skills and techniques and are eligible to wear the recognised WorldHost pin badge, a demonstration of their customer service excellence.

WorldHost benefits:

  • Improved morale, motivation and productivity through continuing professional development (CDP)
  • Greater value in the way you interact with customers
  • Improved perception of shop and increased reputation
  • Greater customer satisfaction
  • Reduced complaints
  • Stronger customer relationships
  • Improved loyalty
  • Reduced incidents of conflict and confrontation

There are three interactive programmes to equip you with the knowledge and skills to deliver world-class customer service in retail.

  • The Principles of Customer Service – Retail
  • Sales Powered by Service – Retail
  • Frontline Management Solutions – Retail

>>>NEW<<<              NSA for Retail Rising Stars Awards 2013

The NSA for Retail Rising Stars Awards is now open for entries!

The NSA for Retail is delighted to be the headline sponsor of the Rising Stars Awards 2013. These prestigious awards organised by Retail Week are designed to recognise the best talent in all areas of retail.

The NSA for Retail and Retail Week will work together with a top panel of retail experts to select those emerging stars, who will ensure a bright future for the industry. Entering offers a fantastic opportunity to recognise achievements of your staff over the past year, highlight your company as a key investor in retail’s future and enhance your brand awareness by being featured in Retail Week.

The Awards will be open for entries until Friday 17th May 2013. There are 13 categories, three of which are managed by the NSA directly and open exclusively to NSA for Retail skills shops:

  • NSA for Retail Apprentice of the Year
  • NSA for Retail Learner of the Year
  • NSA for Retail Trainer of the Year

If you believe there are future retail leaders or ‘rising stars’ in your organisation, make sure you put them forward for the NSA for Retail Rising Stars Awards, offering them a unique opportunity to reward their excellence and gain the credit they deserve.

Further details are available at: www.retailweekrisingstarsawards.co.uk

Strand 6

Strand 6 – Consultancy and support

Retail Benchmarking Tool – Self Assessment

How well is your business performing? Find out by taking a FREE self-assessment – it only takes 15 minutes!

What is it? – This business health check service was developed in partnership with Winning Moves Ltd and The Source skills shop to support the competitiveness of retail businesses in the UK.

What will it tell me about my retail business? – The self-assessment quickly and intuitively identifies key areas for business improvement in areas such as planning, finance, buying, sales and service, merchandising, marketing and people management. The online tool then provides headline advice and signposts higher levels of facilitated support.

How do I access the information? – A full colour, printable report provides clear information on comparative performance for the retailer.

How do I start the self-assessment? – To access the free tool visit: http://retail.virtual-adviser.com


How our customer sees us!  A community approach.

Retail forms the keystone of many communities and local economies. But many are currently suffering from declining town centres. Building a thriving retail sector requires cohesive, town-wide projects that link local partners, communities and businesses.

Skillsmart Retail and the National Skills Academy for Retail have produced the Town Centre Improvement Programme, a package of business support and training which can help your town centre become more successful and sustainable. This consists of a number of tried and tested support services, including providing intelligence, training, business support and unemployment solutions.

  • Reduces youth unemployment
  • Encourages regeneration
  • Boosts business performance
  • Improves local economy
  • Aids retail diversity
  • Establishes an image of customer service excellence
  • Forges better relationships between council and retailers
  • Identifies key issues for a location to address
  • Counteracts ageing population