By Roger Harrop, People Development Lead at Company Shop Group

At Company Shop Group, we are always looking for alternative ways to provide development opportunities to our colleagues - creating an environment in which people can grow, develop and prosper.

As we enter 2020, we are proudly placing apprenticeships at the heart of our “People Strategy”. Development opportunities such as apprenticeships not only help us to continue to be an employer of choice nationally, but they also allow us to support our colleagues so they can develop the essential skills needed to fulfil their potential.

We really recognise and welcome the benefits that apprenticeships bring to our business. From building the foundation of a talent pipeline to providing colleagues with rewarding and fulfilling career paths, apprenticeships help to create a skilled, productive and experienced workforce. They also empower our colleagues to be the potential of our business, which in turn positively impacts our culture and drives our organisation forward.

In July 2019, two of our colleagues started the British Retail Consortium (BRC) Retail Management Apprenticeship, in collaboration with lifestyle retailer Joules. The scheme has proved a great success so far and has encouraged us to develop our own internal leadership and management programme using the apprenticeship framework.

As part of this new Company Shop programme, we are bringing together managers and leaders from across different areas of our business. The schemes provide opportunities for colleagues to share learnings, experiences and best practice, ultimately encouraging peer to peer coaching and promoting a collaborative working ethos.

To achieve this, we’ve aligned our work-based projects, such as embedding our values which form part of an apprenticeship programme, with the colleague engagement activities we are delivering during 2020. This provides a great opportunity for our supervisors and managers to own and lead on these projects, as they directly impact themselves and their teams. We find this helps colleagues to embrace change and new ways of working, and encourages them to live our business values in their everyday work.

To kick-start 2020, over 30 new apprenticeships are being launched across Company Shop Group and we are looking to further increase the number and widen the scope of the opportunities available in the next 12 months.

Discussing the apprenticeship opportunities, Steph McGinty, Company Shop’s Director of People, Communities and Retail explained how “it is a really exciting time for everyone across the business, as these apprenticeships are providing additional opportunities for colleagues to develop their skillsets, supporting both their personal growth and the positive journey of our business”.

“It’s great to know the BRC is committed to working and engaging with the Government to improve the apprenticeship system and also to helping retailers maximise the value from the apprenticeship levy”.

We always want the professional opportunities we provide to colleagues to be as far-reaching as possible, so our current apprenticeship schemes cover a whole range of areas including the Chartered Management Level 5 Diploma for managers; the Chartered Management Level 3 diploma for our team leaders and supervisors; Business Administration at Level 4; Warehousing and Storage at Level 3 and an ICT programme. In late spring, we are also planning to partner with the BRC to offer the Chartered Management Degree Apprenticeship in Retail, which will be available through Leeds Beckett University.

As a rapidly growing business which employs over 800 colleagues throughout England and now Scotland, we are also exploring how the apprenticeship framework can be extended to colleagues on the ground across our retail stores. We always want to provide all colleagues with development opportunities and so it is important to us that there are opportunities for career progression across all corners of the business, and that we’re getting business support and insight from colleagues across all levels. We want all our colleagues to follow one of our key values – aim for extraordinary – when it comes to their own careers and their professional development.

At Company Shop Group, we are all committed to be being a good business, doing good things. Ensuring we engage and develop our colleagues is ultimately essential for continuing to drive forward the success of our business. If last year’s apprenticeships are anything to go by, 2020 is set to be another hugely successful year.

Working together with our hand-picked provider partners, BRC Learning offers high quality leadership and management apprenticeships tailored specifically for the retail industry. Find out more here.