BWG Foods, one of Ireland’s leading retail groups, has launched a first of its kind employee professional development initiative, the BWG Academy, which includes a dedicated, Dublin-based, training and education centre.
The BWG Academy is designed to provide a wide range of self-development and support programmes that will afford over 22,000 retail employees across BWG Foods’ SPAR, Eurospar, Londis, Mace and XL store networks with the opportunity to develop new skills that will support the pursuit of long-term and rewarding careers in the retail sector.
BWG Academy’s dedicated centre is located in Dublin’s North City Business Park and features a state-of-the-art practical training facility, which includes high-spec kitchen, food preparation and food display fittings, along with auxiliary study rooms for theory education.
Training at the centre will range from practical food management skills to specific retail management skills. Given the nationwide spread of BWG Foods’ retail network of over 1,000 independent stores, the BWG Academy is underpinned by an eLearning platform, which will facilitate remote self-development programmes.
According to Retail Ireland, the retail sector employs over 280,000 people across the country, representing 14 percent of total national employment. The sector contributes 23% of the state’s tax returns, and is therefore critical to the Irish economy, particularly in rural economies where 70% of Ireland’s retail jobs are held.
Despite the significance of the sector to the national economy, BWG Foods believes it is very common for someone with little work experience and no third level education to enter the retail sector and for their career progression to be hamstrung by a lack of support services or requirements for specific skills and qualifications that they were never afforded access to.
Commenting on this issue and the launch of the BWG Academy, Peter Donohoe, Group HR Director, BWG Group said: “The reality is that the retail sector has long been underinvested from a formal education and skills development perspective, making it difficult for retail workers to forge rewarding careers. While we’ve come to expect office-based businesses to provide professional development opportunities, we in BWG Foods believe that retailers must also now adapt by providing self-development opportunities to employees so that they can pursue compelling career paths, which will ultimately help retailers to attract and retain talent in today’s competitive labour market.”
Through the BWG Academy, retail employees will also gain access to accredited Earn and Learn programmes such as the Retail Supervision Apprenticeship by Retail Ireland Skillnet, which already has 30 participants from BWG Foods’ retail network, the largest cohort from any retail group in Ireland. Through these partnerships, BWG Foods will support retailers and their employees on the journey to gaining recognised qualifications, all the way to Degree and Masters level.
In addition, and through the BWG Academy, more than 1,000 retailers across the country will gain access to tailored resources that will enable them to engage meaningfully with their employees around matters relating to safety in the workplace, health and fitness, positive lifestyle management, and stress management.