Retail Apprenticeships

Why an apprenticeship in retail?

A Retail apprenticeship will help you learn the skills needed for a successful career in the industry. As an apprentice you get to develop retail specific skills and knowledge while learning key or core skills such as communication and numeracy. You will become aware of your rights and responsibilities as an employee and develop an understanding of how the sector operates. The apprenticeship will give you hands-on experience, enabling you to decide which area of retail you feel most comfortable working in. You will be at an advantage when applying for jobs as a high percentage of people working in retail do not have relevant qualifications.

Who would it suit?

It’s ideal for a real team player who is enthusiastic and naturally shows an interest in the products and services of their employer. Retail is all about customer service so you will need to be able to communicate effectively, be self-motivated, well presented and have great people skills. The work is often not 9am to 5pm so it would suit someone who is capable of working in a flexible and ever changing environment. Numeracy and literacy is also key, as you will often be dealing with money, prices and products.

What are the job opportunities?

There is a huge variety of retailers, from food to fashion or DIY to mobile phones. The size of retail companies varies greatly, so there are opportunities to work in small independent stores or at the other extreme with retailers that are household names with outlets across the country.

As a Level 2 apprentice you are likely to start in an assistant role, with responsibilities such as check out and cash handling, working with customers, replenishing and rotating stock, setting up displays and stock control, including ordering and delivery.

As you progress, positions range from Sales Assistants to Store Managers, Buyers and Merchandisers to Marketing Executives. Some people choose to move into associated areas such as Learning & Development or Personnel, Finance or IT.

What can I earn?

As an apprentice the minimum wage is around £150 per week but at the London Apprenticeship Company we recommend that apprentices are paid considerably more. The average customer service assistant will earn between £10,000 and £17,000 once qualified.

What will I learn?

The training is totally vocational and not like conventional ‘classroom’ study. It is based on looking at you in your day-to-day work, making sure you are receiving the necessary on and off the job training and ensuring that you will reach competence in your role. Examples of what you might cover at Level 2 include: service, selling and product knowledge, merchandise handling, processing payments, storage and display, maintaining health & safety in the workplace, keeping the workplace secure and preventing theft and loss. At Advanced Level you might cover: managing customer service, merchandising and sales, stock management, team management and developing people.

How long does it take?

Training takes around 12-18 months from start to completion.


What’s the training?

Apprenticeship training is structured so that you spend most of your time learning at work and some of your time at a training centre or completing training online. All the qualifications you gain are recognised by employers and industry professionals.

There are two levels of apprenticeship training in retail:


Level 2 Apprenticeship
  • Level 2 NVQ in Customer Retail Skills
  • Level 2 Technical Certificate Retailing
  • Key Skills Application of Number L1 & Communication L1
  • Employment rights and responsibilities


Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship
  • Level 3 NVQ in Retail (Sales Professional)
  • Level 3 NVQ in Retail Skills (Visual Merchandising)
  • Level 3 NVQ in Retail Skills (Management)
  • Level 3 Certificate in Retail Knowledge


What support will I receive?
  1. LAC Mentor – The London Apprenticeship Company will appoint you a mentor who will be on hand to support you throughout your apprenticeship.
  2. Employer Supervisor – Your Employer Supervisor or Manager will address your needs at work and be responsible for making sure your employment is appropriate to your level of skill and training requirements.
  3. Trainer – Your trainer is responsible for making sure you are keeping up with your assignments, assessing you at work and ensuring the training they deliver meets all the industry requirements.


What happens after completion?

The three most likely progression routes will be:

  1. Continued employment – If you have done well in your job, your employer may offer you continued employment.
  2. Secure employment elsewhere – With your qualifications, experience and references in place, you will be in a great position to get a good job.
  3. Further training – Your apprenticeship can lead to further training such as an Advanced Apprenticeship or even university. (LAC will continue to support you if you choose to do an Advanced Apprenticeship.)