Industry sector: Retail and wholesale

Off-licence: Training

Where is training available from

Contact the following organisations for information about training that is available:

  • the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII). The BII licenses establishments which provide courses covering its syllabus and leading to its qualifications
  • the Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET)
  • ServeWise, part of Alcohol Focus Scotland
  • local business support organisations, including your local council (the licensing department may also be able to give some advice)
  • local further education colleges

Training courses cover a wide range of topics of relevance to the licensed trade.

British Institute of Innkeeping qualifications

The BII Award for Personal Licence Holders (and an equivalent qualification for licensees in Scotland) satisfies the requirement that applicants for a personal licence must hold an approved qualification. More information about this and other relevant qualifications is available on the BII and BII Awarding Body (BIIAB) websites.

Wine and Spirit Education Trust Awards

Qualifications awarded by WSET at various different levels include:

  • Award in Wines
  • Award in Wines and Spirits
  • Diploma in Wines and Spirits

More information about these and other qualifications offered by WSET - and information about the London Wine and Spirit School - is available on the WSET website.

Retailing and selling alcohol

As part of Alcohol Focus Scotland, ServeWise provides training on how to sell alcohol responsibly under Scottish licensing laws. Responsible alcohol service training for staff is a legal requirement in Scotland. ServeWise also offers similar training courses for staff in alcohol licensed premises in England and Wales, as well as training for personal licence holders. There is more information on the ServeWise and Alcohol Focus Scotland websites.

Training for personal licence holders and staff in licensed premises is available from various other private training providers - a web search for 'off licence training' should turn up some relevant results.

In Northern Ireland Hospitality Ulster runs various training programmes for the licensed trade, including some courses aimed specifically at off-licences.

Be sure to give all your staff proper training about their obligations and responsibilities under alcohol licensing and tobacco laws. Make sure they understand who they can and can't sell alcohol and tobacco to, how to go about verifying someone's age, and what to do if they have any doubts.

Some local authorities offer training guidance for off-licence premises to help them understand their responsibilities, train staff and comply with the law. You can download an example of a training manual for off-licences from the Burnley Council website.

Food safety training

You and your staff may need training in food safety and hygiene practices if you sell any food products, particularly perishables (for example convenience items).

Nationally recognised food hygiene courses are offered at basic, intermediate and advanced levels by institutions such as the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH). Successful completion of a course leads to the award of a certificate. Training staff in this way will help to demonstrate that the food business has shown due diligence in respect of its obligations under food safety and hygiene regulations.


Learndirect is a free service which can advise on training and personnel development. It can provide details of qualifications and skills relevant to your type of business, give you an outline of appropriate training courses and advise where to go for such training in your area. Visit the Learndirect website or telephone 0800 101 901

National Careers Service

The National Careers Service provides background information and job profiles for a very wide range of careers and helps users to find details of skills requirements, relevant occupational training courses and available qualifications. Visit their website to find out more.