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Apprenticeships boost retail careers


Top retailers across New Zealand are embracing the opportunity to offer eligible staff an apprenticeship.

“Apprenticeships are common in the trades, as well as for chefs, food & beverage professionals, and aircraft engineers,” says Andrew McSweeney, ServiceIQ chief executive. “Apprenticeships are an effective time-honoured system that provides huge advantages for both the employer and the employee. This is recognised with employers able to apply for support under the government’s Apprenticeship Support Programme.

“Apprenticeships are relatively new to retail, so it’s fantastic to see employers welcome the concept, demonstrating to all New Zealanders that retail is a robust and vital professional sector, full of opportunity and benefits for people wanting fulfilling jobs and rewarding careers. This is obvious, with more than 700 retail apprentices embarking on their training journey already this year.”

Greg Harford, Chief Executive of industry association Retail NZ, says: “We’re absolutely delighted that retail employers can offer an apprenticeship. There are some amazing jobs out there and a programme like this will reinforce to employees and potential employees that they will be well supported, trained, and given all the key requirements for a successful career. The retail sector has so many opportunities to develop and grow, be it in a store, management, ownership, marketing, or warehousing and distribution to name a few different facets that exist in the sector.”

The ServiceIQ Retail Apprenticeship results in the award of two New Zealand Certificate qualifications over the two-year on-job programme. After completing their apprenticeship, employees will have knowledge and skills applicable across the wide range of modern retail businesses and environments. Sales and business performance, team leadership, staff performance, applicable legislation, stock maintenance and loss prevention, and customer experience, service and complaints are just a few of the aspects the apprenticeship covers.

Andrew McSweeney Sept18 2018 circle

Andrew McSweeney, ServiceIQ Chief Executive

Andrew McSweeney says the ServiceIQ retail apprenticeship benefits employers as much as their apprentices.

“The apprenticeship helps employees move along their chosen career pathway, building their skills and experience. At the same time, because the apprenticeship is fully on-job, the employer has increasingly skilled and talented employees working daily in its business. Offering apprenticeships helps attract good people to, and retain them in, the business while providing a solid and supported structure for their training.”

Because the apprenticeship is entirely workplace-based it is highly relevant to both the employer and the employee. However, because of the depth of training, it may not suit every employee in every workplace. For these cases, ServiceIQ (the sector’s Industry Training Organisation) has ensured there is a suite of retail training options available. Employers operating in retail, or the supply chain side, can choose from a range that covers short induction training; full New Zealand Certificate retail, distribution, team leadership, and management training programmes; as well as the apprenticeship.

“It may be a surprise to many Kiwis that there is a retail apprenticeship, and such a comprehensive range of nationally recognised training and qualifications,” says Andrew McSweeney. “It is less surprising when you discover that retail is about 14% of the economy from 76,000 retailers employing more than 427,000 people – more than 16% of all jobs. Further, in the last 20 years, retail has never seen a negative job opening rate (new jobs plus openings in existing jobs), even in the midst of COVID last year.”