Demand for short vocational courses is soaring thanks to the pandemic according to the Fashion Retail Academy which has witnessed a 135% rise in students signing up for a fast track career entry.
The number of students enrolling for a February start on its Fast Track Buying & Merchandising course has leapt 135.3% since the last time the college was able to take a spring intake in 2019.
It signals that some students have become wary of longer term commitments and, after a year spent battling the pandemic and three national lockdowns, are keener than ever to get into the world of work and begin their careers.
Repeated lockdowns have played havoc with the education system over the past 12 months with lectures cancelled and students stuck in halls of residence at traditional universities. Most degree courses last three years but the FRA, one of the UK’s leading fashion schools, is expecting to be able to capitalise on rising demand for shorter courses. Its degree courses are delivered over two years, its diplomas span a single year and its Fast Track Buying & Merchandising course takes just 22 weeks.
Those who complete the course are then qualified to apply for a range of key entry-level roles including Buying Admin Assistant (BAA), Merchandising Admin Assistant (MAA), Allocator, Buyer’s Clerk, Sourcing & Supply Chain Assistant and Trend Research & Forecasting Agents.
The FRA, a unique college that offers vocational retail fashion courses, currently only offers one fast track course but could broaden the choice of subjects if demand continues to increase dramatically.
The FRA believes it will appeal to a wide range of students, from those who have abandoned longer courses at other institutions and want a faster route into a career that interests them to those who want to upskill and switch careers, possibly because they’re in an industry hit hard by the economic fallout of the pandemic, such as hospitality.
The FRA’s Fast Track Buying & Merchandising course is delivered two days a week, allowing students to continue to hold down part-time jobs, and offers a February and September start date. Advanced Learning Loans are available for students 19 and over, which means they don’t start paying back their tuition fees until they earn more than £25,000. Over that amount, they only have to pay back 9% of their salary.
The high street may be suffering but fashion will always be a part of our cultural and retail landscape, and the FRA is always adapting to the future of the industry. The college, based in London’s Fitzrovia at the heart of the capital’s retail scene, is constantly updating its courses. It reacts to industry needs to mirror the growing significance of online retail, for example, with more tech-focused skills on the curriculum than ever before.
Lee Lucas, principal of the Fashion Retail Academy, one of the country’s leading fashion schools, said: “The sudden surge in demand for our fast track course is exceeding expectations. After so much pandemic disruption, it’s easy to imagine why more students than ever would be wary of making longer term commitments.
“These types of courses are also perfect for those looking for a career change and there are going to be many people looking for a switch as sectors such as hospitality bear the brunt of the economic fallout to come.”