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May 14, 2019 #Business

Students from an award-wining work experience programme celebrated their success today with a ceremony at The Mansion House, Newcastle where they were joined by teachers, retailers and The Lord Mayor of Newcastle, Councillor David Down.

Retail Gold, an extended schools’ work experience programme, delivered by North East based education consultancy Employers in Education, enables young people to develop essential employability skills, raise self-confidence and gain a thorough insight into the retail industry.

During the 2018/19 academic year, Year 12 students from across the region have been attending weekly work placements at a wide variety of stores at intu Metrocentre and intu Eldon Square including retailers such as Debenhams, House of Fraser, John Lewis and WH Smith, providing a unique insight into working within the retail and hospitality sectors.

Since 2005, Retail Gold has placed more than five hundred and thirty students with thirty different retailers at both North East intu shopping centres, helping students build relationships and experience in a supportive and professional working environment.

Tracy Allison, retail gold lead and owner at Employers in Education, said: “It’s extremely satisfying to know Retail Gold remains central to the success of BTEC courses being offered in our schools. Providing excellent support for our young people, both in their studies and in developing essential employability skills for their future careers. Most recently, we were delighted to hear that Kaif Dad, a student from Emmanuel College has landed a part-time role at House of Fraser at intu Metrocentre after impressing the team so much during his placement.”

Alexander Nicoll, corporate responsibility director at intu, added: “More and more qualifications require one or even two work placements. Finding businesses with not only the capacity but the inclination to host placements can be challenging. However, working with long-established retailer partners allows us to ensure the quality of experience remains high and is maintained and refined each year.

“Retail Gold wouldn’t succeed without the long-term support of intu retailers who deliver first class guidance and training to the young people on the programme. In the last fourteen years, retailers have delivered 57,000 hours of on-site training.

“As a responsible business intu is pleased to note that an initiative we support fits so well with the description of “good careers guidance” from the latest in-depth research undertaken for the UK Government.”

Gavin Prior, regional centre director at intu Metrocentre and intu Eldon Square, said: “Today we’re celebrating the success of some phenomenal young people who live and study right on our doorstep. I had the pleasure of hosting a visit for the Gosforth Academy students this year and was blown away by their knowledge of the retail sector and the detailed questions they had prepared for me.”

Phil Steele, general manager at intu Eldon Square, added: “Good career guidance helps inspire students towards further study and enables them to make informed decisions whenever choices are open to them. It helps them to understand enough about the world of work to know what skills they need to succeed. It is crucial for social mobility because it helps open students’ eyes to careers they may not have considered. Ofsted also now includes career guidance specifically within the inspection framework.”

A preparation session delivered at Excelsior Academy before students embarked on their first experience of the workplace was filmed and has been included in a digital resource which will be circulated to every school in the UK. The resource has been designed to share best practice around the Gatsby Benchmarks in Careers Education and Guidance.

For more information and to apply, visit intu.co.uk/metrocentre/jobs/retail-gold, intu.co.uk/eldonsquare/jobs/retail-gold, www.gateshead.ac.uk/retail-gold/

By Simon