_V8A3346A pre-employment training scheme has helped more than 60 people into work in the space of six months.
Launched in May 2014, intu Academy is a joint initiative between intu Properties plc and Gateshead College , and is supplying retailers in the North East with a world class recruitment and training solution, providing industry standard pre-employment training to job seekers.
The three week programme, designed by Gateshead College , includes an introduction to intu’s world class customer services programme, including retail skills, sales and service, team work, interview skills, health, safety, equality, diversity and problem solving in a retail environment.
Now in its seventh phase, the course has attracted over 100 participants to date, with 64% of candidates securing a position after the introductory pre-employment scheme, and 100% of candidates participating in Phase 7 being offered employment. Over 25 retailers at intu Eldon Square and intu Metrocentre are currently supporting the academy, providing valuable on-site experience to potential employees.
Successful course participants have been offered jobs at a wide variety of stores, including Clarks, Collectables, Debenhams, Greggs, Harvester, HMV, Lush, Odeon, Primark, TK Maxx and ToysRus.
Michael Nixon from Gateshead is one of several successful graduates of the intu Academy , which provided a route back to employment after he was left without a job. After gaining an advanced plumbing qualification, the 22 year old went on to complete a customer service apprenticeship at a North Shields used car dealer. When the company decided against keeping him on he found out from his local jobcentre about the opportunity available through intu and Gateshead College.
Michael signed up to the intu training programme and in the space of three weeks had created an eye-catching CV, honed his job interview techniques and acquired a range of transferable skills including retail knowledge, sales techniques, health and safety and intu world class customer service training.
His hard work paid off almost immediately, with Michael receiving three job offers in quick succession.
Michael said:
“Three retailers, Toys R Us, HMV and Collectables were all interested in taking me on, and I eventually plumped for Collectables as they were offering the chance of more hours. I’m thrilled to be working for a well-respected gifts company that provides some great career opportunities for its employees. I feel the intu training gave me a good head start over other jobseekers and enabled me to find work quickly. That was really important for me as I’d lost a lot of confidence after I wasn’t kept on at the end of my apprenticeship. The Gateshead College tutors helped me re-build my self-belief and gain skills that enabled me to perform well in the job interviews.”
Neil Price, Manager of Collectables, intu Metrocentre, added:
“Michael is exactly the type of skilled dedicated employee that we were looking for when we started our recruitment process. We need to source suitably talented individuals for a variety of positions and the training scheme delivered by intu and Gateshead College enabled us to do that quickly and efficiently.”
Aimee Shanahan (22) from Kenton secured employment at Debenhams, intu Eldon Square , after successfully completing the course following a spell of unemployment since graduating in June 2014.
Aimee explained:
“I’m originally from Wales , and graduated with a degree in graphic design this summer. I moved to the North East to be with my fiancé, but I didn’t know anybody else and felt very isolated and was worried about finding employment.  Apart from my fiancé, I was friendless, jobless and not sure where to turn, to be honest. I was so relieved once I’d spoken to the staff at Jobcentre Plus who suggested I try the intu Academy , which sounded like a good way to learn new skills in a reasonably short space of time.  I decided I didn’t have anything to lose – although I knew I was lacking in confidence and had been described as ‘painfully shy’ in the past. The staff at Gateshead College were absolutely amazing; all of the tutors really took me under their wing. My confidence increased, I met new friends, learned so many new skills and was truly amazed at the amount of hard work that goes on behind the scenes in retail.  That was a real eye opener. The course and in-store experience was first rate, and I was delighted when I was offered employment from not one, but four retailers!  I was happy to accept the job at Debenhams as it is a major national retailer with lots of opportunity for career progression. When I look back to where I was six weeks ago, I’m in another, and much happier, world.”
Tracy Allison, intu Academy Project Manager, said:
 “This partnership between Gateshead College, Jobcentre Plus and intu is providing the context for job seekers and retailers to fulfil each other’s needs, and in real terms, find the right people for the right job at the right time. Within a relatively short time frame, this course has really gathered momentum and attracted the attention of retailers and job seekers. This is the first stage of a long term plan to deliver an extended series of courses designed to develop skills in the retail industry.”
Paul Gough, Director of Business Development, Gateshead College , said:
“Our aim is to give people the transferable skills and attributes that will help them to find work. Michael and Aimee are two of many students who have benefited from the scheme, which provides a route to an exciting range of career opportunities within the retail industry.”
Jo Jobling, District Manager for Jobcentre Plus in Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, added:
“Sector based work academies are one of the Get Britain Working measures and are driven by sector demand to meet the requirements of our clients and employers. The partnership between Jobcentre Plus, Gateshead College and intu is an excellent example of best practice, and it’s a real bonus to have large employers working with us to help our clients find jobs that can change their lives.”