intu Eldon Square and intu Metrocentre took part in Retail Matters 2016, a week-long celebration of the benefits working in retail can bring.

 

Leaders from intu’s long running Retail Gold* projects were supporting sixth form pupils as they began in-store extended work experience placements, and also celebrated college students’ success on the final week of the current Retail Gold’s Hospitality & Retail course, in association with Gateshead College and Job Centre Plus.
 
In addition, students from Percy Hedley School were visiting intu Eldon Square for an induction into career opportunities in retail, and at intu Metrocentre Heads of Fun Esther Bennett (9) and Logan Jackson Luke (7) brought a group of schoolfriends to visit behind the scenes at entertainment centre Namco Funscape.
 
Retail Matters is staged every year by Revo, the national body that represents shopping centres, to encourage more people to consider a career in retail and discover more about the long-term job and training opportunities with employers like intu.
 
Karen Carr, regional marketing manager, intu North, said:
 
“We’re so proud to be one of the region’s leading long term employers and work closely with our partners to deliver a range of great employment opportunities across the North East.
 
“We’re passionate about the opportunities a career in retail and hospitality can bring, with the chance to create valuable experiences for others while developing important skills and job satisfaction. As one of the country’s biggest retail employers, Retail Matters is always a great opportunity for us to highlight what we’re doing to help local people gain long-term employment and celebrate the benefits of working in the industry.”
 
18,750 local jobs were supported by intu Eldon Square and intu Metrocentre last year, representing 10.7% of the area’s workforce. This includes the number of people working at the shopping centres and its suppliers as well as 1,503 construction jobs at both intu Metrocentre’s Qube dining area, and intu Eldon Square’s new dining development at Grey’s Quarter. Across the country, 4% of the UK’s total retail workforce works at an intu centre. 
 
intu’s Gross Value Added (GVA)*, a recognised measurement of its total economic contribution, shows that that regional investment such as local employment helped it make an overall impact of £548.2 million on the region’s economy last year and £4.2 billion nationwide. 
 
Retail Gold* (School) is an extended work experience programme for sixth form students in Newcastle and Gateshead. Since it started in 2005, Retail Gold has benefited more than 400 students and provided nearly 50,000 hours of mentoring support in stores.
 
Retail Gold (School) Case Study
Patrick Larsen, Excelsior Academy
 
Patrick Larsen was one of 14 students from Excelsior Academy‘s sixth form, Excelsior College working with some of the biggest retail names on the UK high street.
Excelsior enjoys a Retail Gold work placement partnership with intu, which owns some of the UK‘s best-known shopping centres, including intu Metrocentre and intu Eldon Square, which attract more than 400 million customer visits every year.
 
Patrick was based at Marks and Spencer’s homeware department in its intu Eldon Square store for six months, undergoing an interview and induction training while studying a BTEC Level 3 Retail Knowledge course at Excelsior College.
 
Peter Stead, Excelsior Business Studies teacher, said: 
 
“Patrick has really thrived on his work placement – he’s a people person and I think his achievement is exceptional.
 
“He has so much ability and the encouragement he’s had in such a nurturing environment which Marks and Spencer give our students has been so rewarding for him.
 
“His attendance has been exemplary on his work placement and his attitude has made him stand out.”
 
Patrick, who has started his working life as a sales assistant working weekend hours at Marks and Spencer, said:
 
 “I’m so happy about getting a job here – it was really nice for me to get the offer out of the blue.
 
“Before my work placement I’d never thought about how much goes on behind the scenes. Now I want to be a manager; I’d like to give people like me the same opportunities I’ve had.”
 
David Gillin, Marks and Spencer Regional Recruitment Co-ordinator, said:
 
“Patrick impressed us from day one”.
 
“He rolled up his sleeves and got stuck in with any task that was given to him. At the end of the placement we had no hesitation in offering him a job. We are pleased that he is now part of our workforce.
 

The Retail Gold placements are mapped around BTEC qualifications in Retail Knowledge. Students learn about customer service, the selling process, health & safety, teamwork, retail security and legislation. During 2015/16 around 40 young people from 4 schools have benefitted from this rare opportunity to learn in a real life context and draw from personal experience to complete coursework.  There are relatively few students of this age that can say they have done an extended work placement and have such a wealth of retail experience.

During Retail Matters week, a new group of 45 students from Excelsior Academy, Gosforth Academy,Kingsmeadow School and Thorp Academy prepared for their work placements. Gosforth students started their placements with Debenhams and John Lewis in intu Eldon Square on Friday 30th September.
Retail Gold*(College & Job Centre Plus) is a pre-employment training programme that has helped over 200 people into work. A partnership between intu, Gateshead College and Jobcentre Plus 
 
Retail Gold trainee Siobione Chambers (pic attached) from Gateshead, has found permanent employment at Five Guys, one of the new restaurants in the new intu Metrocentre Qube dining & leisure quarter, following just three weeks of training on the Retail Gold hospitality programme.
 

Siobione, 27, mum to 5-year-old Lyra, said:

“I found out about Retail Gold via word of mouth, and went along to my local Job Centre for more information. It sounded right up my street, as I really wanted to work with people, and not be stuck in an office. I quickly gained qualifications in occupational studies, employability skills, equality and diversity and health and safety, and was thrilled when I was offered this job at Five Guys! I’m working 50 hours a week, plus overtime, and I’m enjoying it so much the hours just fly by! We have a great team here, and good incentives too, as the more you learn the more you earn. I am so grateful that I heard about Retail Gold as now I feel I’m in a really good place in my life, with earning power and a job I really enjoy.”
 
Five Guys manager Brent Hope added:
 
“Siobione has been such a great crew member for us, we are delighted that she is on the team. In fact, she was on the till when we were visited by one of our mystery shoppers, and gave such amazing service that the whole crew was rewarded with a bonus! Our great crew have certainly helped Five Guys be such an instant hit at intu Metrocentre.”
 
The three week course has now expanded to include training in the hospitality sector, alongside an introduction to intu’s world class customer services programme, basic food preparation, food safety, health, safety, equality, diversity and problem solving.
 
Julie Kelly, Work based leaning manager at Gateshead College, said:
 
“Thanks to the strong partnership built between Gateshead College, intu and Job Centre Plus we have been able to equip local people with the skills and attributes employers need to deliver the highest quality service in their businesses.
 
“intu retailers are benefiting from access to a skilled pool of candidates and local people have the opportunity to secure jobs and careers. Retail Gold has been a real success and it is great now to be in a position where we can extend our programme to include hospitality giving local people in the best opportunity to secure work in the many new restaurants and cafes.”
 
Alexander Nicoll, intu’s corporate responsibility director, commented:          
 
“Everyone at intu is proud of the success to date of Retail Gold and the partnership forged between intu, Gateshead College and Job Centre Plus. Retail Gold is delivering real opportunities and hope to many local people seeking a career with the buzz that the retail and hospitality sectors can provide. This initiative has certainly improved the calibre of potential employees and, most importantly, helped people back to work.  The further opportunities to be promoted will further expand our ability to assist our retailers in finding the right people for the right job at the right time.”
 
Visit www.intugroup.co.uk for more information.