The State’s vital retail businesses are about to get a shot in the arm in time for Christmas, with thousands of free training places on offer to help fill skills shortages in the sector.

Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education, Geoff Lee, has announced more than 3,500 fee free training places will initially be offered across 40 different short courses to prepare for the busy Christmas retail period with more places to be added based on demand.

This is in addition to the thousands of free hospitality training places announced earlier this month

“The NSW Government is encouraging people to take advantage of free courses through TAFE NSW and other registered training providers, where you can learn specialist customer service and retail operation skills for businesses large and small,” Mr Lee said.


“People from all over the State are lining up to get into our local shops, from pharmacies to supermarkets and florists and the NSW Government wants to help support those businesses attract enthusiastic and skilled staff.”

There are currently more than 4000 job vacancies in the NSW retail sector, accounting for a 10 to 20 per cent shortage of workers.

“Retail accounts for more than 44,000 NSW businesses, employing one in 10 workers. It’s our second largest employer and a hugely important part of the job market.

“That’s why training opportunities like this are so valuable, filling labour gaps and giving jobseekers the opportunity of a bright future in retail.”

Australian Retailers Association CEO Paul Zahra said Christmas is the busiest time of year in retail and businesses are on the hunt for extra staff to cope with the increased demand.

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“Staff shortages are a significant concern for the retail industry as businesses ramp up their operations after the lockdown and in the lead up to the busy Christmas trading period,” Mr Zahra said.

“Many businesses have struggled to retain their existing staff through the lockdown when they couldn’t trade from their physical stores. We’re yet to see the return of international students and skilled migrants, so filling all the vacant positions is proving to be an immense challenge.”

“We appreciate and support the efforts of the NSW Government in their targeted campaign to address the retail staff shortfall. There’s a number of retail specific courses that are fully subsidised and are a quick and easy way for people of all ages to get the training they need to join the industry or to upskill in other areas.”

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The free training will be funded under the joint State and Federal JobTrainer program, which has already seen more than 143,000 enrolments since it was announced in October last year.

To explore other fee-free retail courses available to study, visit:

Free retail short courses include:

Statement of Attainment in Retail – Point of Sale, Handle Stock and Identify/Respond to Security Risks)

  • Statement of Attainment in Retail – Visual Merchandising, Plan a Career in the Retail Industry, Advise on Products & Services, Work in a Team
  • Statement of Attainment in Retail Customer Service
  • Manage Disrespectful, Aggressive or Abusive Customers
  • Food Safety Supervision
  • Licence to Operate a Forklift and Manual Handling