Waterstones is set to launch a UK “industry first” professional qualification in bookselling, in partnership with the University of Derby.
The Waterstones Academy will run a pilot in April, with 80 pupils undertaking three modules of three months’ duration each: Engaging Your Customers; Selling to Customers; and Winning Customers. Pupils passing the course will receive a certificate equivalent to a Level 4 qualification, or the first year of an undergraduate degree.
The Academy has been inspired by a similar “bookselling school” at La Scuola Librai Italiani in Italy, where Waterstones m.d. James Daunt has given regular lectures.
Waterstones is funding the course which will be accredited by the University of Derby and has been specifically designed to “help employees develop the skills and behaviours Waterstones has identified as vital to effective bookselling”.
Emma Brown, senior learning and development manager for Waterstones, said: “To be a bookseller is a complex job and part of this is recognising that. The Academy itself is the brand name for all of our training in Waterstones. The pilot is for us to see who is going to get the most out of this.” She added: “After the pilot, it will become widely available in the company to anyone who wants to get that qualification.”
Learning will take place via online tutorials, and be applied through a series of business challenges in the workplace. Some Waterstones shop managers are being trained by the University of Derby to become Academy assessors.
Waterstones Finchley Road branch manager Martin Eyre, who is being trained as an assessor, said: “We’re developing our own skills while supporting booksellers to learn new knowledge and receive recognition in the form of a Certificate in Bookselling.”