I passionately believe that even in these difficult times most, if not all of us would like to find a way to get a young person a good qualification and a job. How many of us though know that there are formally accredited qualifications in sales, especially as higher education shuns sales like the plague. Our newsletter this month is written by Heather Carter, co-founder of the National Sales Academy and successful entrepreneur; Heather is passionate about sales, about making a difference by developing young people and providing them with a career choice. Here is her contribution:
Focus on Work Based Learning – Opportunity is only the beginning
We’ve all heard of work based learning, but a recognised accredited work-based qualification in Sales?  Now that is something new.  And that is precisely where the National Sales Academy’s focus lies in 2013.  As we all know, Sales is the lifeblood of any organisation, but sales can be difficult to manage, standardise and is commonly plagued by high attrition rates. With the existence of over 300+ business management courses in the UK, at the last count, only 4 focus on sales as part of the qualification.  The National Sales Academy was specifically set up to address the national skills gap in Sales and support employers in their endeavor to engage, recruit and retain their sales force through accredited work based learning.
So, just like any other apprenticeship model, sales development programmes deliver guided learning combined with hands on experience, enabling the individual to grow with the dynamic requirements of the business world.
Harnessing youth and enthusiasm and making a difference to young peoples’ lives is a passion of the National Sales Academy. And with 20 years experience in sales and marketing and a national alliance of colleges and universities, individuals and employers can be confident the National Sales Academy can deliver its mission. When you consider that two-fifths of all those who are unemployed are aged under 25 and are eligible for an apprenticeship, starting at grass roots and harnessing young talent makes perfect sense.
Apprenticeships are rapidly becoming the new norm for school-leavers looking to enter the world of work, earning whilst they’re learning. In 2012 we saw apprenticeship applications rise by 15% and in 2013, the success of the National Apprenticeship Week pushed the effort into full force, creating 13,600 new vacancies which were pledged by businesses large and small in an attempt to counteract the current employment crisis in the UK.
The National Sales Academy are firmly backing the current transition, increasing apprenticeship positions within the workplace and believe that apprenticeships are the way to give young people the opportunities they deserve. A portfolio of work-based learning programmes in sales and related roles, from entry to university accreditation, to get individuals started and advancing the business career ladder will aid this movement.
The National Sales Academy’s mission is to develop talented sales people; whether a school or college leaver or an individual/employee looking to advance their current sales career, we empower them to achieve their career ambitions. As such we invite all employers to become part of our ‘Make a Difference, Provide a Career Choice’ (MAD PACC) initiative to help us make this national transition and establish sales as a recognised and rewarding profession. Standardising sales process, facilitating a structured benchmarking and appraisal process, tailored not only to the individual but also the business model; and with the support of sales professionals; this way, work based learning is not only great for morale, but also great for business. 
Have a good Easter break and hopefully we can all welcome the Spring!