The Outdoor Industries Association has revealed details of a pilot scheme for retailers that it will run early in 2010 as it works towards introducing a new Retail Skills Certificate for the outdoor industries.
Working with Skillsmart Retail, the sector skills council for the retail industry, the OIA is developing a competence-based qualification for outdoor retail staff that will recognise the work that they do and provide a benchmark standard for the whole sector.
The pilot project will start in mid-February with a select number of OIA member stores, with the full scheme due to launch later in the year.
The units of competence within the new qualification reflect actual working practices and are designed to reinforce skills that retailers need to develop in their staff in order to trade successfully.
The OIA is keen to enable all retail members to access the qualification from summer 2010 and include it as part of their strategy for staff development. The aim is to promote best practice for training within the sector and help businesses develop and recognise the skills of their staff.
Crucial to the success of the project will be the input of Skillsmart Retail. Earlier this year, the OIA Council opened a dialogue with Skillsmart Retail and set up a working group to team up with the organisation. Together, they have agreed a set of core units from the existing Retail Skills Certificate Level 2, and these will be used to pilot the programme. The pilot scheme will not include specific OIA units (these bespoke elements of the scheme will be developed by the team during the course of the pilot), but will reflect the essential core skills that sales assistants need to succeed in retail service and sales.
Following a successful pilot project, the OIA is aiming to launch the full scheme to its members later in 2010. It is hoped that the Retail Skills Certificate will help to establish a clear, consistent standard for the outdoor sector that can be communicated to both the trade and consumers for the benefit of all.
Louise Ramsay, chief executive of the Outdoor Industries Association, says:
“One of the OIA’s key objectives is to promote training and careers, encourage more people to work within the sector and improve skills levels across the board.
“Retailers face a multitude of issues when it comes to training and there is inconsistency and disparity with regards to both training initiatives and levels. The feedback we have received from across the sector for some time is that this is a crucial area that needs addressing and in which the OIA should be taking the leading role.
“Working with Skillsmart Retail, the OIA’s working group has developed what we believe is a viable and robust scheme. The pilot project will allow us to thoroughly test that and clearly establish what benefits the new certificate can bring to employers, employees and the industry as a whole.”
The pilot project will involve two to four employees from six to eight OIA members and will be delivered in-store by the National Skills Academy for Retail Skillshops, a subsidiary of Skillsmart Retail.
Successful employees will be awarded with a Retail Skills Level 2 certificate. OIA member retailers who are interested in participating in the pilot project should contact Louise Ramsay on email@example.com or 0131 333 4414.