The National Skills Academy for Retail (NSAR), in partnership with the Association of Town and City Management (ATCM) are to launch the new Digital High Street Skills Programme at the Future High Street Summit which takes place in the National Space Centre, Leicester on 26 March.
Up-skilling of the UK’s small and medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) will enable them to drive forward an estimated £18.8b of turnover growth, and the pilot phase of the project aims to train 3000 SME business owners and staff across the country by the end of 2014.
Through the NSAR’s network of skills shops and licensed trainers, the Digital High Street Skills Programme will be delivered via a modular series of webinars, face-to-face presentations and workshop events initially across 75 locations in England, with the training then to be rolled out in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Guy Douglas, ATCM Digital High Street Programme manager, says: "Small businesses have a huge role to play in ensuring that we have thriving town and city centres across the UK. The objective of the programme is to fill the digital divide between small and large businesses, and to demonstrate that digital up-skilling will play a crucial role in delivering improved economic results and social experiences on the high streets of the future. ATCM and the National Skills Academy for Retail have worked together, and with town centre and retail experts, to develop the exciting content for the programme."
Jane Rexworthy, head of the National Skills Academy for Retail, says: "This programme will help small businesses to establish or enhance their online retail offer, and make the best use of digital marketing tactics to really help boost their bottom line. The programme will show how multi-channel retailing is relevant to every size of business, and why small businesses need to take full advantage of the online opportunities that can help them to build and grow their business and ensure their long-term sustainability."
Clare Rayner, retail expert and high street champion, founder of the Future High Summit, added: "I’m delighted that this programme will be launched at the Future High Street Summit. Since 2011 when I created the Support for Independent Retail Campaign in the UK I’ve been a strong advocate of leveraging the opportunities that online/digital tools and techniques present to smaller, independent retailers. In this day and age there is absolutely no excuse for a business of any size to not have some form of online presence.
"As I state in chapter 7 (Customer Engagement) of my book 'The Retail Champion, 10-steps to Retail Success', it’s a critical part of the customer engagement process – from attraction to conversion, from retention to creating vocal brand advocates. As consumers we conduct our lives and our communications in an omni-channel world and hence it’s imperative that small businesses recognise that, investing in developing the appropriate skills and capabilities to be where their customers, and potential customers, are. That includes leveraging all aspects of online marketing, commerce and communications."
The Digital High Street Skills suite of programmes has been developed with the help of the Employer Ownership Fund. Through the Employer Ownership Fund, the National Skills Academy for Retail can offer training and mentoring for small retail businesses at substantially reduced rates. The Fund is accessible to all retail businesses with fewer than 250 employees in England and is available until the end of July 2014.
Anyone interested in attending the Future High Street Summit, and in celebrating the launch of the Digital High Street Skills programme can find out more via the website.