Sheffield City Council and The Source
With 22% of young people currently unemployed in the UK, helping 16-18 year olds into work has become a priority for many local authorities. In Sheffield, the council and skills shop, The Source, part of the National Skills Academy for Retail’s network, have collaborated on a number of innovative projects for young people looking for a career in retail.
One of these projects, Sheffield Showcase, is a visual merchandising scheme which brings together apprentices, artists, designers and retailers to reinvigorate an area of the city centre. The project, funded by Sheffield City Council, allows retail students to create and install window displays in some of the empty shops around the Sevenstone development site.
Since launching in 2009, the project has led to many interesting window displays which have become very popular with residents, young people and businesses alike. Students on the project get to work with professional designers and artists and develop their skills within a genuine retail environment, making up part of their Apprenticeship programme. Many of the products displayed are from independent retailers, allowing them to benefit from the unique city centre marketing opportunity which they wouldn’t ordinarily be able to afford.
Councillor Ian Auckland, Cabinet Member for Business, Transport and Skills at Sheffield City Council said: "This project is so much more than just making a few windows look pretty. As well as animating vacated shop fronts in the city centre it also provides young visual merchandising apprentices with the skills and on the job learning that they need to get on.
“The project has already seen hundreds of artists, retailers and exhibitors showcase their wares and has definitely brightened up the city centre rather than simply having boarded up windows in the Sevenstone development area. Sheffield Showcase not only shows off the city's existing talents but nurtures the next generation."
Another successful scheme for retail apprentices delivered by The Source is First in Best Dressed. Launched in September 2011, this innovative charity shop aims to develop apprentices by giving them practical experience of running a business as well as raising money for local charities.
The project launched in September 2011 and is supported by Sheffield City Council, the Skills Funding Agency and The Source.
Ann Cadman, Managing Director at The Source, said: "First In Best Dressed is an exciting new charity shop that not only supports local charities, but gives young people the opportunity to gain practical experience in a retail environment."