Working in the retail sector is increasingly becoming a more attractive alternative for young people than going to university, according to the British Retail Consortium (BRC).

The rising cost of tuition fees and the debt young people are forced to take on at university contrasts sharply with the high levels of investment and training they receive in retailing, according to research carried out by research house Oxford Economics and the Office for National Statistics

The report shows that retailers spend an average of £1,275 per employee per year, a higher level than companies in the banking and manufacturing sectors.

Around 12% of the UK’s total training spend comes from the retail sector.

The figures have been released ahead of a debate hosted by the BRC at the Labour Party Conference this morning, entitled ‘Universities Challenged: is the world of work now the best option post-16?’.

BRC director general Stephen Robertson said: “Many young people considering university will be worried about building up huge debts which will take years to pay off.

“An alternative is to get a job which gives access to training and personal development funded by an employer while also picking up a salary. That option is getting more attractive all the time”.