Retailers: Shop floor beats uni

Tim Wallace
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SHELF-STACKING in a supermarket from 16 can be a better career move than studying for A-levels and a degree, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) will claim today.

On-the-job training and good career prospects can be preferable to a longer formal education with higher debts, the industry body will say.

Retailers invest an average of £1,275 per year in training each employee, according to BRC figures. That amounts to 12 per cent of overall training spending in the country.

With university fees rising to £9,000 per year from 2012, the industry body said that makes work-based training a very attractive option.

“Many young people considering university will be worried about building up huge debts which will take years to pay off. An alternative is to get a job which gives access to training and personal development funded by an employer while also picking up a salary,” said the BRC’s Stephen Robertson.

“There must be an end to the snobbery about workplace qualifications. We owe it to our young people to challenge the dominance of degrees and let them get the appropriate level of credit for skills and experiences they pick up while in work.”

As supporting evidence, Robertson pointed to the careers of chief executives like the Co-op’s Peter Marks, who left school at 17 to work in the shop.