BASINGSTOKE College of Technology will be offering new and improved facilities and training for retail and logistics students after becoming a new centre of vocational excellence.

The college has received a grant of £500,000 with its partners Eastleigh College and The Training and Learning Company, based in Wales, after successfully applying for the new status from the Learning and Skills Council for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

The organisations will work in partnership to improve training, and with retail businesses to enhance employment opportunities.

Beverley Flanagan, assistant principal, business and communications at BCOT, said: "The success of this project depends on retail managers getting involved, and we particularly want to set up a steering group to direct and advise the way forward. We will use this money to ensure quality retail training and improved skill levels."

BCOT will also be encouraging apprenticeships and will work with logistics companies linked to the retail sector to provide training in driving delivery vehicles, distribution and warehousing.

Alan Gwyer, strategy and partnerships director at BCOT, said: "It's more important than ever for retail and logistics companies to employ knowledgeable and motivated staff.

"Retail is not only about selling in the shop, nor is logistics only about driving a forklift truck. They are industries that offer exciting management opportunities in property services, financial services, IT, logistics management, fleet management, merchandising and other areas."

Hilary Chadwick, executive director of the Learning and Skills Council in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, said: "We are delighted to recognise such hard work from BCOT and their partners with this award. Improving skill levels is vital to Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, and the retail and logistics sectors are two of our key priorities."

Any retail manager who would like to be involved in the steering group should contact Mrs Flanagan on 01256 306248 or e-mail