They say you can get anything at Harrods, but until now, we’re fairly sure university-certified qualifications were off that list. Not any more: the department store to the rich and famous is planning to offer its staff the chance to study for a BA in sales; apparently, the new Qatari owners want its staff to ‘perfect the art of selling’. Good for them...
The 24-month degree, in conjunction with Anglia Ruskin University’s business school, will give select staff training in human behaviour, psychology and business enterprise. The competition’s likely to be hot: the course will only be open to 10 employees, who will study through the year (including traditional holiday time) to complete the equivalent of a three-year BA in a third of the time (no eyebrow-raising at the back).
It won’t be all hard slog, though: they’ll be studying on the top floor of the Harrods store in Knightsbridge. Given they’ll be just a couple of floors above the world-famous food hall, we imagine there'll be plenty of volunteers for the lunch run.
Harrods is the first UK retailer to offer its staff a full degree qualification, though it's part of a growing trend towards more work-based training - the likes of McDonalds and Tesco also offer vocational courses leading to A-Levels and NVQs. It seems to us it's a win-win: staff get recognised for their learning on the job, while the employer gets to trumpet its commitment to training and development.
It’ll also go down well with the coalition Government, which is keen to open up universities to those who wouldn’t usually be able to afford it (especially if tuition fees are massively hiked). Universities Secretary David Willetts has suggested the UK’s most successful institutions allow students to study for degrees with them online or through their local further education college. Or even, as in this case, their employer. So expect to see a lot more people following in Harrods' footsteps in the coming years.
When former owner Mohammed Al Fayed sold up for £1.5bn in May, he said he had chosen new owners who would upgrade and expand Harrods, while the Qataris claimed that they would make it the ‘ultimate shopping experience’. Staff who come in to work the tills and walk out with a degree will certainly end up with a lot more than they bargained for...
In today's bulletin:
Banker bashing back on the menu at G8?
Sex, drugs - and pre-loaded credit cards
Editor's blog: why content creators shouldn't lose out
Never mind Oxbridge - go to Harrods
The Parent Project: What not to do when you're pregnant