Sixth form BTEC Retail Knowledge students visited Bicester recently to research the retail offer of a typical high street and interview managers from two successful outlets on Sheep Street, right in the heart of this busy market town.
The learners, who began their BTEC Retail Knowledge course in September, were able to gain data on the range of shops available to local consumers, mapping key features and their views on who the outlets were aimed at. To gain more in-depth knowledge, the students conducted face to face interviews with store managers and Broadribb Cycles and Marks & Spencer.
Learner Craig Harris obtained a BTEC Level 1 Award in Business Administration last year and decided to further his business knowledge by taking the Retail Knowledge course this year. Craig comments, “The managers we spoke to shared lots of information with us about the work that their staff do and the skills that are needed to do them. We learnt that is wasn’t all about having qualifications as people skills are very important and both shops offer training so that you can learn on the job. Most of the roles involve dealing with the public, but Marks & Spencer employ people who work in the stock rooms, in warehouses, and they have administration roles too. Talking to people about different jobs is helpful as you get a much better feel for what the job entails than if you just read about it on the internet. Both managers said technology had changed the way they do things and brought both challenges and opportunities to the business”.
Head of School Louisa Allison-Bergin said: “It is really vital for our learners to explore different career options and the Retail Knowledge BTEC is great for giving them exposure to this diverse sector, which offers so many opportunities and a wide range of jobs. At LVS Oxford we are very keen to develop links with the local community and businesses around Oxfordshire. We are therefore really grateful to Broadribb Cycles and Marks & Spencer for giving our learners this opportunity to conduct face to face interviews and find out about these two very different businesses in a practical way. Practicing communication skills is extremely important for young people with autism and the students were supported on this trip by Abigail Robbins, our speech and language therapist. I’m delighted that the students were able to conduct their interviews with the managers and build their confidence in communicating with people who they haven’t met before”.
The BTEC in Retail Knowledge covers the business of retail; the retail selling process; customer service; how individuals and teams contribute to the effectiveness of a retail business; along with planning and running an enterprise activity. It offers students a valuable grounding in retail, along with the opportunity to develop interpersonal and entrepreneurial skills that will be valuable to them when they move on to further studies or employment.
Current research shows that only 15% of young people with an autism spectrum diagnosis are in sustained, full-time employment and we are passionate about changing that statistic.