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Retail Expansion at Derby College

  • Date: 27/08/2013
  • Category: General

Derby College has expanded its range of courses for people wanting to progress in the retail industry.

The College’s Retail Academy, based at The Roundhouse flagship vocational skills campus in Pride Park, now offers a level four Visual Merchandising diploma course which is proving popular with students keen to develop their skills.

The Diploma course includes 2D and 3D store design and architecture, in store visual merchandising; commercial layouts and display, mannequin styling, designing and installing effective window displays, pixel based image manipulation and designing retail graphics packages. As part of the course students will attend work placements to gain work experience.

The Visual Merchandising Diploma joins a wide range of Retail courses from levels one to three which are already popular with school leavers, helping people gain university places to study subjects such as Fashion Design and PR, or helping them develop careers in Retail management.

The Retail academy also offers apprenticeships and a Foundation Degree in Retail Management and Leadership in partnership with Nottingham Trent University.

The programmes are overseen by the Derby Retail Skills Shop, which was one of the first in a national network of leading retailers and training providers whose aim are to raise training standards in retail – with input from ‘Queen of Shops’ Mary Portas.

Derby College Retail Team Manager Diane Biggins explained: “Derby College was one of the first places in the country chosen to pioneer the Skills Shop scheme and we work closely with partners such as Westfield Derby, the Cathedral Quarter and leading employers including Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Debenhams and Matalan to provide a one-stop shop for training for the sector.

“The Visual Merchandising Diploma offers people, particularly young people who are the life blood of future skills in the retail industry, an opportunity to really develop their skills in this key area.

“This not only gives our students a pathway from their courses but also provides an opportunity for people in the retail industry to return to learning to develop their skills.

“Working in retail is more than just putting clothes on a shelf and learning to use a till – there are so many different opportunities and in Derbyshire alone there are more than 2,300 retailers employing more than 37,000 people – a third of whom are aged under 25 – so job prospects are good, even in these challenging times.”

Amongst the first students to complete the Visual Merchandising Diploma course Katie Morgan (20) from Chellaston and Kiran Aftaab (19) from Normanton.

Katie joined Derby College from Noel Baker Community School and has progressed from level one to level four.  Her work placement was at Dorothy Perkins in Derby who were so impressed that they offered her a job after finishing College this summer.

Katie said: “I am working in customer service at Dorothy Perkins at the moment but will be moving more into the Visual Merchandising soon which is where my ambitions lie.

“I was really pleased to have been accepted onto the Diploma course and it was brilliant – learning all the theory behind Visual Merchandising, how to design and position displays and how to problem solve issues that you are faced.

“With these qualifications under my belt and the work experience that I have gained whilst at College, my aim is to get as high as I can in Visual Merchandising and one day to be the person in charge of designs in High Street stores that people then follow.”

Kiran is currently working as Team Leader at Barnardo’s charity shop in Babington Lane in the St Peters Quarter whilst she applies for full time positions.

She said: “I wanted to put the skills that we learnt at College into practice so applied to be a volunteer at Barnardo’s.

“The Manager was so impressed with how I did the merchandising that she made me Team Leader and now I direct others about how the shop should look.

“I am in charge of the window displays which are so important as you need to draw people into the shop and then display the goods in such a way that it gives them a good retail experience and encourages them to buy.”


Sarah Jenkin-Jones, Derby College PR Officer, Tel: 07951 945665; sarah.jenkin-jones@derby-college.ac.uk

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