Local retailers are being offered free training and support to help their businesses thrive, thanks to a series of short courses being launched by City of Wolverhampton College.

The college is running the bitesize workshops for small retailers and independent businesses to show its support for the first Wolverhampton Independent Retail Excellence Awards (WIRE).

Over the next year, businesses within the Black Country with less than 250 employees will be able to take advantage of a full programme of free workshops, all designed to improve workforce skills and boost profitability.

The short Level 2 courses cover a range of useful topics tailored to suit the employer. They include those in visual merchandising, stock taking, customer service, food safety, bakery skills and how to deal with customer complaints.

Deputy Director Andrew Cartwright said: “We are delighted to be supporting the WIRE awards, and recognise all the hard work and dedication that goes into running a small business, by offering this retail training which is open to retailers across the city and beyond.

“We are very lucky in Wolverhampton to have so many independent retailers, offering unique products and a personal touch, and these free courses will help ensure these businesses continue to thrive.”

City of Wolverhampton Council Leader, Councillor Roger Lawrence, said: “This is just the sort of initiative we hoped the WIRE Awards would generate.

“I would urge businesses with less than 250 employees to make the most of the opportunity provided by City of Wolverhampton College.

“It is vital that we listen to the voice of businesses and that we support and nurture growth here in the city.

“We very much value the presence of the small businesses in the city and the creative local people behind them.

“These are the businesses that help give Wolverhampton its own identity and character.”

John Henn, Chair of Wolverhampton BID, said: “This is great news for small business operators, and everyone should engage and benefit.

“Styles and trends are changing and this will be an opportunity for us to all update our skills and keep ahead in the very competitive world of retail.”

The WIRE Awards, which are being led by City of Wolverhampton Council and Wolverhampton BID, aim to celebrate great independent businesses, with 12 awards up for grabs.

Andrew Cartwright added “Retailers who have entered the WIRE awards will be offered a free training needs analysis, which acts as a health check for their business training. From this analysis we will be able to recommend the best courses that will enable individual businesses to improve. These courses will, of course, all be free of charge!”

The free training courses are funded by the Skills Funding Agency and the European Social Fund via the Skills Enhancement Fund operated by Calderdale College.

For more information call the Employer Service team on 01902 837163 or email

About Association of Colleges West Midlands

AoC West Midlands promotes and supports the interests of 38 general further education, sixth form and specialist colleges throughout the West Midlands region. The West Midlands is a diverse region and our colleges reflect this diversity. From small specialist colleges in rural locations to large inner city establishments, colleges reflect the needs of their local environment. Working closely with employers, learners and the local community, our 38 member colleges offer a broad range of flexible learning opportunities for individuals at all levels. They aim to give local people the skills they need for success and prosperity, tackling barriers to learning and providing opportunities that meet the needs of individuals and employers
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