The Tile Association, working with ACTD (the National Training Organisation for the ceramic industry) has started to develop a training scheme for the staff working in tile retail outlets. Training materials linked to National Vocational Qualifications* were developed, which enable staff to enhance their customer service and selling skills in line with nationally-recognised good practice.
A pilot scheme was run and eventually an NVQ system was implemented to give staff the opportunity to obtain formal qualifications without having to go to college. The TTA approved NVQ/SVQ is studied in the workplace on a computer with no need to attend a college or take time out of work. The scheme was trialled by a number of trainees from retail showrooms across the country and at The Tile Association Annual Awards Dinner the first five people to qualify were presented with their NVQ certificates. Those "graduating" were Amy Stout from The Tile Warehouse, Nottingham, Ed Stewart and Laura Golding from Tile Magic plc and John Hurley and Sandra Entwistle from Tiles UK Ltd.
The TTA approved NVQ is a nationally recognised qualification that proves showroom personnel can 'do the job' rather than simply understand the theory or sit exams. The NVQ certificate is awarded by an Awarding Body; for example, City & Guilds. It covers good retailing practice from customer service to health and safety. The training scheme has advantages for employer and employee alike. It assures good customer service aiding customer retention and increasing referrals. It provides a clear career structure which gives employees confidence and aids staff retention. It is anticipated that an experienced showroom staff member should be able to achieve the NVQ in up to six months, and that a person new to the industry would take about two years. The next stage in the scheme will be to develop a pool of national assessors who will be able to assess trainees as they progress through their training.
*Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs) in Scotland