If you're interested in a retail career, you won't be short on options. There are currently over 200 retail qualifications offered by employers, colleges, private learning providers and universities across the UK.

Retail qualifications fall into three broad areas: work-based learning (such as NVQs, SVQs and Apprenticeships); Further Education (such as vocational qualifications, college courses and BTEC qualifications); and Higher Education (including Foundation Degrees, Higher National Diplomas and certificates, and honours and masters degrees). So there should be something out there to suit you!


Retail apprenticeships are available to young people starting their retail career in-store, and for those where specialist product expertise is necessary. Each of the four nations in the UK has developed its own apprenticeship strategy. Check out the Skills and Development page on the Skillsmart Retail website

www.skillsmart.com, or visit:

www.apprenticeships.org.uk or, www.lsc.gov.uk in England; www.elwa.ac.uk in Wales; www.scotent.co.uk, www.hie.co.uk or www.mascot.uk.com in Scotland; www.wrtc.co.uk in Ireland

NVQs (or SVQs in Scotland) are occupational qualifications, which are directly based on the National Occupational Standards and delivered through employers and learning providers. In retail, qualifications exist at levels one to three, and you must already be working in the sector to be eligible to take them.

Again, each country has its own strategy. In England, the Government's programme is called Entry to Employment. In Wales, the National Assembly has introduced Skillbuild. In Scotland, a similar programme is called Get Ready for Work. And in Northern Ireland, it is called Access. Check out:

www.lsc.gov.uk, www.connexions.gov.uk, www.elwa.ac.uk, www.careerswales.com, www.scotent.co.uk




Colleges offer many retail courses, such as a BTEC First (level 2) and BTEC National (Level 3) in retail. These courses will give you a firm foundation to move into Higher Education or a career in retail. Entrance into some colleges requires at least five GCSEs with grades A to C. Full details are available from UCAS at www.ucas.com

For a full list of retail qualifications, visit the Qualification Curriculum Authority website page www.openquals.org.uk/openquals/

SSAList.aspx (for England, Wales and Northern Ireland), or the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework www.scqf.org.uk


Foundation Degrees are available in England, Northern Ireland and Wales, and are employment-related qualifications, generally equivalent to the first two years of an honours degree. Universities offer them in partnership with higher or Further Education colleges. The degrees are developed with the involvement of employers to ensure that they are relevant to the employment sector. An individual can achieve a Foundation Degree within two to three years, using different modes of study (i.e. full- or part-time).

For information on Scotland's equivalent; the Higher National Certificate (HNC) or Higher National Diploma (HND) visit www.scqf.org.uk

Undergraduate and postgraduate degree courses in retail management are offered by a number of UK universities. These are often four-year sandwich courses, with one year working in retail. For more information, visit www.ucas.com

For summaries of Foundation Degree courses on offer and general information about careers and jobs in retail, phone the Retail Career Line on 0800 093 5001 or visit www.skillsmart.com

RETAIL CAREER LINE: 0800 093 5001