Expand your retail talent pool - Apprenticeship in Retail Supervision

April 03, 2023

The Apprenticeship in Retail Supervision is a level 6 programme targeting existing and aspiring retail supervisors. This innovative programme is delivered by Retail Ireland Skillnet in collaboration with over 70 different retail employer organisations. Employers are based throughout Ireland and represent all the different sub-sectors of retail including grocery, fashion, pharmacy, hardware, DIY, agriculture, food, convenience and fuel. The vast majority of Ireland’s leading retail organisations are currently involved in this extremely popular apprenticeship. Retailers of all sizes view this programme as their preferred supervisory/management development programme.

Since commencing in 2019, the programme has grown steadily. In 2022, 160 employees from every county in Ireland commenced the Apprenticeship in Retail Supervision. These employees continue to work full time as normal and attend 24 college days per year for 2 years. The 24 college days are a combination of 16 classroom days and 8 live online days. The 16 classroom days are delivered in either Dublin, Galway or Cork (whichever is closest to employee/apprentice).

The most important location for learning in this Apprenticeship programme is the actual workplace – the store where the Apprentice is employed. Apprentices need to implement and share learning acquired from the classroom/online in their workplace. Apprentices are supported by a trained workplace mentor who exposes the apprentice to a learning environment during the programme. As opposed to relying on exams or fictitious case studies, apprentices complete work-based reports that address opportunities or challenges in their organisation. This is something that often leads to significant improvements in the actual store where the apprentice is employed.

The employers that participate on this programme have reported significant benefits in terms of talent attraction and retention. A 2022 impact study that reviewed the programme found that:

  • 100% of employers said succession planning and addressing knowledge gaps were addressed.
  • 75% of employers agreed the programme enhanced employer branding.
  • 91.67% of employers said it improved employee morale.
  • 66.67% of employers reported it helped with talent attraction.
  • 75% of employers said it helped reduce staff turnover.
  • 92.61% of employers strongly agreed or agreed that the knowledge, skills, and competencies in key areas such as selling, customer experience, management, confidence, motivation and communications have improved significantly.
  • 93.75% of employers stated they are likely to enroll more employees on the programme in the near future.

One of the key reasons this apprenticeship enjoys so much success relates to the level of collaboration between Retail Ireland Skillnet and the employers participating on the programme. There is collaboration during programme development, programme delivery and programme evaluation. The apprenticeship has also been informed by best practices from similar programmes delivered in Europe, Canada and the US. The modules completed by apprentices ensure they are equipped to perform very effectively in a modern retail environment. Employees complete modules such as supervision, selling, retail technology, supply chain, legal issues in retail, accounts, omni channel marketing, health, safety and wellbeing, retail security and much more. All modules are delivered by experienced and highly qualified lecturers supported by subject matter experts from industry.

2022 was an extremely satisfying and memorable year for the Apprenticeship in Retail Supervision programme. 120 retail employees graduated at ceremonies attended by Ministers, senior figures from the world of retail and education along with family and friends of graduates.

Many of the graduates from the retail apprenticeship progressed into year 2 of the very successful Retail Management Degree Programme which is delivered in Dublin by the Atlantic Technological University (ATU) in collaboration with Retail Ireland Skillnet. This highly funded degree programme was updated in 2022 and covers all the various contemporary retail issues including people and performance management, customer engagements, retail supply chain, omni channel marketing, financial accounting for retail, e-commerce, retail consumer behaviour and psychology, retail buying and merchandising, retail security and loss prevention and much more.

It looks like 2023 will also be hugely successful with close to 200 apprentices expected to commence the programme. Employers are delighted that there are no programme registration fees. Furthermore, employers that enroll employees on the programme receive a €4000 grant to cover expenses such as travel, accommodation or equipment.

To find out more about the programme, please visit our website – www.retailirelandskillnet.com or contact the Programme Director.

Dr. Oran Doherty

Programme Director

Retail Ireland