Retail and hospitality is one of the city’s largest employment sectors and is set to boom further still over the coming years.
However, businesses from shops to hotels have concerns about their own staff and future success due to the lack of skills and training opportunities in the sector.
So, Leeds is leading the way and has created ‘Ambition’ – a retail and hospitality training centre based at City Exchange and very much driven by the needs of local businesses from global and high-street chains to independents.
It is funded by LeedsBID and Leeds City Council and works with Leeds City College, Leeds Becket University and The Source at Meadowhall in Sheffield – the organisations which carry out the training.
Ambition manager Dianne Wainwright said: “We want to deliver the education and training by bringing businesses and education providers together so training is fit for purpose and meets the needs of the sector.
“It has to be led by employers and that is our unique approach.”
It could cover things such as leadership and management techniques, financial skills and budget management, first aid training, cocktail making and patisserie, digital marketing and social media and even to the art of selling.
There are also qualifications which can be gained following the training sessions such as apprenticeships, CIPD accreditations and degree equivalents which can be achieved alongside working.
Ms Wainwright added: “Quite often I don’t think that people fully appreciate that retail and hospitality offers so many diverse careers opportunities.
“As a consumer you see a certain amount but there is a lot behind the scenes that is equally as important.”
There a number of ways that both employers and employees can access the services at Ambition - which despite only having been running for little over six weeks have led to jobs.
The Job Centre and the Prince’s Trust are the man referral points and just recently 16 young people were at Ambition to get help with CVs and interview skills.
Equally someone working in Boots may want to know more about the financial side of business or someone could be returning to work after having children, for example, and want to re-fresh their skills.
Ms Wainwright added: “There are skills centres but LeedsBID has been the first to take this approach.
“So far the reaction has been really positive. People are on the same page and we want to make sure that the sector is prepared for the changes ahead and the growth (13 per cent in the next 10 years) that we are expecting to happen in the city centre.”