The Chairperson of the National Off-Licence Association, Evelyn Jones, has announced that Ireland will be the first market in Europe where traditional off-licences operate, to provide specialised on-line training plus formal certification for management and staff who have direct responsibility for retailing alcohol. Under a newly launched initiative specialist alcohol retailers will have access to a dedicated e-learning facility which can lead to qualification for a 'Responsible Trading Certificate'. This is the first on-line facility of its type in Europe.
“The National Off-Licence Association has been providing specialist training to the proprietors and staff of its 350 member outlets for more than 10 years and now this expertise is being made available for the first time on-line and also to all independent alcohol retailers outside the membership of our Association”, said Ms Jones. “In view of the widely acknowledged importance of providing special training for personnel with responsibility for selling alcohol products, which can have a particular impact on health and society, while at the same time observing strict licensing laws, this innovation will have far-reaching consequences. In addition the newly launched 'Responsible Trading Certificate' will be highly beneficial in relation to licence renewal and will prove to be a positive step in enhancing the role of the alcohol retailer in tackling alcohol abuse nationally”.
Heretofore, the need to send staff to on-site training courses has presented a problem for many independent retailers throughout the country, in terms of staff resources and cost. Despite this all member outlets of the National Off-Licence Association have participated in specialist training. “This has been undertaken by our members in the past on a voluntary basis, because while our Association has been lobbying to have mandatory training introduced, to date the Government has not introduced such a requirement in its recently updated licensing legislation.
“Selling alcohol is very different to selling groceries or sweets. Staff who sell alcohol, not only need to be fully familiar with the law and with the risks to themselves and their employers that can result in business closures and fines, but they must also be trained to deal with problematic situations regarding underage purchasing, drunkenness and anti-social behaviour.
“The new on-line professional course deals with societal issues and positions the off-licence in a responsible role in the community. It also empowers staff to recognise potential underage purchasing situations and assists them by instilling confidence when facing problems that can arise when refusing sales”.