Skillsmart Retail is urging retailers struggling through the recession to continue to invest in staff training.

Exclusive figures given to The Grocer show staff training is a key factor in creating stable businesses. Companies who provide training are 2.5 times less likely to fail than those that don't, according to research from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills. Separate research, carried out by Skillsmart, shows a 5% increase in the training rate increases gross value added per employee by 4%.

Skillsmart also found that based on 700 UK retailers, 98% of employers agreed training improved business performance, 86% said training made staff more likely to stay with the company and 68% said retail skills would change significantly in the future, resulting in an even greater need for training.

"Our sector relies heavily on its people and continuing to develop both management and shop floor skills is essential to maintaining competitiveness as the market tightens," said Skillsmart chairman and ex-CEO of The Co-operative Group Martin Beaumont.

"Let's not forget that it is our staff's commitment, productivity and professionalism that will ultimately get us through these tough times."

Skillsmart is encouraging retailers to get involved with the Government's Train to Gain scheme, where £350m funding is available for staff training.

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