Plans to establish a new Centre of Retail and Hospitality Excellence (CORHE) by the end of April 2018 in Leeds could be given the green light by senior councillors next week.
Approval of the recommendations in the report submitted to Leeds City Council’s executive board on 7 February 2018, would see the authority and Leeds Business Improvement District (the LeedsBID) formally work in partnership to create a skills centre of excellence at LandSec’s City Exchange building in the city centre. The decision to move ahead with the project, follows a business planning and sustainability study undertaken into merits of the concept by the council and the LeedsBID.
With Leeds ranked as the third highest destination for retail spend outside London and just outside the European top 20, the creation of a new dedicated centre for excellence will provide an exciting base in which to capitalise and build on the already burgeoning retail and hospitality sectors that exist in the city.
Over the next ten years, employment in the wholesale and retail sector and the accommodation and food sector services sector is forecast to grow by 12% and 13%. From 2014-2024, there are also projected to be approximately 18,000 job openings in the city region in customer service roles and 32,000 in accommodation and food.
The aims of the CORHE will be to improve the skills, service standards and business performance of employers and current and future employees who access the service. As part of the offer, employers will be able to make use of the expertise at the CORHE to identify their workforce skills needs and access a portfolio of existing and emerging products, master classes, training and qualifications from Level 1 to 7.
Working with local providers the centre will seek to match candidates with employment opportunities and give local residents the chance to learn new skills and more effectively compete for job openings and existing workers to up-skill and advance their careers. It is anticipated, that once in operation, there will be a minimum of 500 individuals per annum benefitting from the CORHE skills offer, with an ambition to grow this number to over 1,000.
Working with the council and the LeedsBID to deliver the CORHE are three leading providers, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds City College and The Source Retail Skills Academy, who have significant local knowledge and experience in the sector.
If approved by the executive board, £195,000 will be allocated by the council to support the establishment of and operation of the CORHE. This will be matched by £270,000 from the LeedsBID. Land Sec, which owns Trinity Leeds and the City Exchange building where the CORHE will be based, has also donated a significant grant to help kick-start the new facility, which will open by the end of April 2018.
Councillor Mohammed Rafique, Leeds City Council’s executive member for employment, skills and opportunity said:
“With competition extremely fierce, we want to ensure that Leeds continues to be ahead of the game and at the forefront of growth in both the retail and hospitality sectors. If we are to achieve this aim is it essential that employers are equipped with the tools and have the support to capitalise on the opportunities that are available now and for the foreseeable future in these dynamic and fast moving sectors.
“We believe that the creation of a Centre of Retail and Hospitality Excellence is a key addition to the city and starts to deliver on the aims of our Talent and Skills Plan. A dedicated hub will help employers to identify their workforce development and training needs, whilst also providing potential employees of the future with the skills and training necessary to work and build long careers in these sectors.
The experience and knowledge of partners including Leeds Beckett University, Leeds City College and The Source Retail Skills will ensure that we can both meets the needs of employers and potential future employees, and continue to meet changing needs.”
Andrew Cooper, LeedsBID chief executive said:
“An overarching objective of the Leeds Business Improvement District’s business plan is for the BID to be an economic driver for the city centre – to assist businesses in identifying and maximising the best pathways and initiatives to attract, retain and develop talent and skills while providing investment opportunities for sectors to ensure Leeds can compete in the global marketplace.
“Having identified a need to support retail, a primary sector of economic importance for the city, LeedsBID is working alongside its levy payers and key partners to address employee shortage issues, low-level skills and recruitment challenges with this innovative employer-led solution in the heart of the retail area.
“The BID’s investment in helping to make the Centre of Retail and Hospitality Excellence a reality illustrates its valuable contribution in the development of a stronger, higher skilled workforce, the delivery of greater economic growth for the city and increase levels of employment for all.”
David Maddison, Landsec, general manager at Trinity Leeds said:
“The city’s incredible retail offering has gone from strength to strength since Trinity Leeds opened, and we’ve been passionate about providing jobs for local people right from the start.
“We’re excited to take this one step further by supporting the Centre of Retail and Hospitality Excellence, which will be housed in our City Exchange building.
“We’re so proud to have played a part in helping Leeds climb up the retail rankings and we’ve no doubt the new academy will ensure the city continues to blaze a trail in the world of retail.”