John Lewis to launch degree level qualification

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John Lewis has today announced plans to further develop its internal vocational qualifications programme through the ‘University of John Lewis’, a range of work-based qualifications designed to offer all Partners (staff) the chance to gain externally recognised qualifications and progress in their career.
As part of the offer, John Lewis plans to introduce a pilot Level 6 vocational qualification, equivalent to an honours degree, by the end of this year, aimed at Partners (staff) in senior management roles. This is in addition to the retailer’s existing qualification programme, which allows Partners to progress from entry-level qualifications up to Level 5.

The introduction of the ‘University of John Lewis’ further builds on the retailer’s ambition to professionalise the retail sector and provide its workforce with the skills they need to progress and stay competitive in the ever-changing retail environment.

Today’s announcement follows the successful launch of John Lewis’s market-leading apprenticeship programme at the end of last year. The Modern and Advanced Apprenticeship Schemes give young people the opportunity to gain Level 2 or 3 vocational qualifications, the equivalent to GCSEs and A-levels respectively. The retailer offered 80 places on its Retail apprenticeship scheme in 2012.

Laura Whyte, Personnel Director, John Lewis, said: “There is an old-fashioned view that retail doesn’t offer people long-term career opportunities, but that is just no longer the case. Our Partners give us our competitive edge, and if we want them to stay with us for the long-term, we need to make sure that they have the right skills to meet the challenges we face in an evolving retail environment.

“The aspiration for the University of John Lewis is to provide choice to our workforce by matching them with the right level of qualification and help them achieve their career goals. We want Partners working at all levels of John Lewis, from selling assistants to branch managers, to have the opportunity to develop new skills and qualifications whilst still at work.”

As well as vocational qualifications, the ‘University of John Lewis’ offers a number of other training and development initiative through its Skills Programme, including product knowledge, line management, and leadership training. The retailer’s Leisure Learning programme also supports Partners in developing skills outside of their day-to-day roles, such as a foreign language.
In 2012:

• 2,160 John Lewis Partners applied for a vocational qualification
• 1,330 John Lewis Partners achieved a Retail Diploma – 32 per cent of which achieved a Level 3 qualification, the equivalent of A-level standard
• 335 John Lewis Partners achieved a Distribution qualification

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