The retail sector has became one of the first to change its qualifications to fit into the new Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF), a credit-based system that allows individuals to gain qualifications at their own pace along flexible routes.
This system will give retail learners greater freedom to choose their career direction and options on bespoke learning packages.
It is hoped 291,000 retail employers employing three million staff will be able to more readily measure and evaluate potential employees' qualifications and map out professional qualifications for staff.
The number of retail qualifications intended for use has been reduced to just nine sector-endorsed national qualification titles, eliminating much of the confusion and muddle previously experienced by employers.
Beverley Paddey, head of standards and qualifications at Skillsmart Retail, said: "We took a completely fresh approach and spoke to hundreds of retailers about what was required. We discovered many retailers and potential learners ignored existing qualifications or felt disengaged from them. This was due to there being far too many, with little meaning ascribed to their title. They didn't fit business needs.
"Ultimately, the strategy was to create a suite of qualifications that suit business and individual needs and we advised a consensus about what they should look like, what they should be called and what they should contain. As a result, we created a national framework of short, sharp, flexible, unit-based training that makes training options and progression pathways clear."
And Gary Tovey, qualifications manager at Sainsbury's, added: "You can see exactly what is on offer and it has enabled the sector to review the global offer of qualifications and skills programmes. It is a lot leaner and simpler and there was a very smooth transition for the retail sector between the old National Occupational Standards (NOS) and the new QCF.
"Sainsbury's worked on the core competencies with the examination authority, EDI, mapping existing training to the QCF. We have achieved enough credits to make up a full Level 2 qualification; that can be either a job-related, standalone qualification or a component forming part of an apprenticeship."
This article was first published on hrmagazine.co.uk