Paphitis launches Retail Skills Academy

After a long day in a dark press room at the IoD conference, we've found there’s nothing quite like a breathtaking view to lift the spirits – so Smarta felt very smug when it attended the launch of the National Skills Academy for Retail at the top of Centre Point this evening.

The academy will allow people working in the retail sector to find out more about improving their skills, offering training and career advice, as well as thousands of apprenticeships.

At the launch, Charlie Mayfield, chairman of John Lewis, said the academy was a ‘very important’ development. “There are some fantastic people in retail – it’s a very rich sector,” he said. “But now is the time to be investing in skills because we’re at such a challenging time for the country.

Minister for skills and apprenticeships Lord Young added that in retail, ‘skills are absolutely at the heart’ of the industry. “We’re creating real and genuine career opportunities for young people, and that should be applauded.” 

Ryman owner, Dragons’ Den investor and recently appointed patron of the Retail Skills Council Theo Paphitis also attended the event and told the audience he felt he has had a ‘wonderful opportunity’ to work in retail.

“I keep telling my mum I’m a shopkeeper, and she hates it – but I love being a shopkeeper,” he said. “On my first day in a shop I knew this was the career for me. It was the first time I had ever been trained to know more than the guy I was talking to.

“Shopkeeping taught me everything I needed to know about business. If you catch anyone saying retail is just shelf stacking, spank them one from me.”

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