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Retail Business

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Many jobs in the retail business do not set specific academic requirements although many employers prefer applicants for supervisory or management posts to have at least five GCSEs (A*-C), and A levels or equivalent qualifications. A number of jobs in the industry - for example marketing are mainly graduate entry. Experience of working with customers, especially in a retail environment, is also very important.

Those working in the retail business are increasingly well qualified with 30% having a degree or postgraduate qualification. Only 2% have no qualifications at all.

Useful qualifications include:

  • Diploma in Retail Business or Business, Administration and Finance.
  • BTEC certificate or diploma in retail.
  • NVQs in retail or logistics.
  • Foundation degree in retail management or logistics.
  • Degree in retail management, marketing or logistics.

As a guide, minimum requirements for entry onto a foundation degree course are one A level and three GCSEs (A*-C) or equivalent qualifications; for a degree course the minimum requirements are normally two A levels and five GCSEs (A*-C), or equivalent qualifications - for example an Advanced Diploma in Retail Business.

Apprenticeships are a good way of entering the retail business sector and it may be possible to enter retail or logistics management through an Advanced Apprenticeship.

In addition:

Personal shoppers are usually expected to have worked in a fashion or beauty environment. Retail assistants who have demonstrated the right attributes and skills fill most vacancies.

Retail buyer vacancies are popular and many entrants have a degree or a BTEC Higher National Certificate/Diploma (HNC/D). Relevant subjects include business studies, retail and distribution.  It may be possible to enter retail buying via an Apprenticeship in retail, and undertake a buying or merchandising placement.

Employers of retail fashion buyers may ask for fashion qualifications. The London College of Fashion runs a specialist two-year foundation degree in fashion buying and merchandising.  The Fashion Access Programme (Fashion Business and Fashion Promotions Media) provides a one-year intensive study programme for entrants without formal academic qualifications or those wanting to change career direction. It can also prepare students for entry to the London College of Fashion's foundation degree in fashion buying and merchandising. Entrants to the Access programme need to show a broad interest in fashion, media, arts and current affairs.

Marketing jobs are very competitive and this means that many entrants to marketing roles, even for junior positions, have an HND, foundation degree or degree. Useful subjects include marketing, sales and business. Applicants with relevant work experience may be at an advantage.  

Logistics jobs involving driving and operating machinery may have age restrictions. An Apprenticeship in traffic office or wholesaling, distribution, warehousing and storage could also lead to opportunities in logistics management.

Import/export jobs increasingly require qualifications. Many companies ask for at least four GCSEs (A*-C), including English and maths. Some companies may prefer A levels or equivalent qualifications. Larger companies often ask for a Higher National Diploma (HND), foundation degree or degree. Although any degree, foundation degree or HND subject is acceptable, courses that cover international trade, logistics, business studies or marketing may be an advantage. Qualifications or experience in using foreign languages are always in demand. The Diploma in retail business or business, administration and finance could be a useful starting point.

For warehouse jobs a fork lift licence - for those aged 16 or over - can be helpful in getting warehouse work. Training courses lasting around three to five days are offered by independent training providers. In some warehouses, goods are colour coded, so colour vision tests may be given at interview. Apprenticeships in warehousing and storage leading to NVQ Level 2, and Advanced Apprenticeships leading to NVQ Level 3, may be available.


For more information about the courses on offer locally for 14-19 year olds why visit your local area prospectus? -

For courses in higher education check out the UCAS site

For Apprenticeships see the vacancies on the National Apprenticeship website

You can also ring the Barnsley Connexions Centre for information on local Apprenticeships on 01226 205686

Want to find out more about the range of employability skills asked for by employers?