Next takes on up to 1,000 fashion retail apprentices

High-street chain hopes to show that 'someone training from 17 without a degree can succeed'

Next, the FTSE 100 high-street fashion chain, is set to give up to 1,000 young people a chance of a career in retail as part of a groundbreaking apprenticeship scheme.

The retailer, run by chief executive Lord Wolfson, is in the process of hiring 500 young people, but might double that number if there are enough suitable candidates. The scheme is a first for Next and will please the Government, which has been seeking to boost the number of apprenticeship schemes.

The coalition has set aside £500m to help tackle Neets – the one million young people classed as not in education, employment or training in the UK. "What the Government has done has been very sensible, but it is now down to the private sector to implement it," said Lord Wolfson.

He added that it will not be possible to judge the scheme's success for at least six months, when the performance of those recruited can be measured.

"The key objective here is to get these people really good in their jobs and we hope they will have a career in retail, but it is very early," Lord Wolfson added.

Next came up with the idea last November, and began work with Pera Training, which has worked with Jaguar Land Rover on a similar apprenticeship scheme.

John Hayes, the skills minister, said: "This form of training has been long established in manufacturing, with recent schemes announced at companies like Jaguar Land Rover and defence contractor Thales. Over the past year ... the number of apprenticeships has risen by 113,000 – the largest rise in the UK's history."

The standard apprenticeship wage stands at £2.50 an hour, though Next's scheme will, ultimately, pay more. Next's programme has been supported by the National Apprenticeship Service and will provide an NVQ Level 2 apprenticeship, with those completing it qualifying for a bonus.

Lord Wolfson said that retail is a business where many directors and chief executives started on the shop floor. "You don't have to have an academic background to succeed in retail. This is about getting away from the idea that you need a degree to have a successful career. We hope to show that someone training from the age of 17 without a degree can succeed."

Other retailers have been involved in bringing careers to young people, despite the sector often being blamed for only providing part-time, unskilled work. The soon-to-be-open Stratford City shopping centre in east London, being developed by Westfield, will house a retail academy run by the training body Seetec. And Topshop boss Sir Philip Green created the Fashion Retail Academy in 2006.

Lord Wolfson said that Next is also looking at apprenticeships in distribution and warehousing as possibilities for the future.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: HR Benefits Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum + pro rata: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager / Financial Services

£30000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established in 1999, a highly r...

Jemma Gent: Year End Accountant

£250-£300 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Are you a qualified accountant with strong exp...

Jemma Gent: Management Accountant

£230 - £260 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Do you want to stamp your footprint in histo...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower