John Lewis has announced plans to develop its vocational qualifications programme through the ‘University of John Lewis’.
This is a range of work-based qualifications designed to offer all staff the chance to gain externally recognised qualifications. As part of the offer, the retailer plans to introduce a pilot Level 6 vocational qualification, equivalent to an honours degree, by the end of this year, aimed at staff in senior management roles.
John Lewis says the introduction of the University further builds on its ambition to “professionalise the retail sector and provide the workforce with the skills they need to progress and stay competitive in the ever-changing retail environment”.
The announcement follows the launch of John Lewis’ apprenticeship programme at the end of last year. The Modern and Advanced Apprenticeship Schemes give young people the opportunity to gain Level 2 or 3 vocational qualifications, the equivalent to GCSEs and A-levels respectively. The retailer offered 80 places on its Retail apprenticeship scheme in 2012.
John Lewis personnel director Laura Whyte said: “There’s an old-fashioned view that retail doesn’t offer people long-term career opportunities but that is just no longer the case. Our Partners [staff] give us our competitive edge, and if we want them to stay with us for the long-term, we need to make sure that they have the right skills to meet the challenges we face in an evolving retail environment.
“The aspiration for the University of John Lewis is to provide choice to our workforce by matching them with the right level of qualification and help them achieve their career goals. We want Partners working at all levels of John Lewis, from selling assistants to branch managers, to have the opportunity to develop new skills and qualifications whilst still at work.”