A training scheme spearheaded by a North East college and retail giant Intu 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 – part of the development firm which owns the intu Metrocentre and intu Eldon Square – and Gateshead College.
The academy is designed to supply retailers in the region with a top class recruitment and training solution, providing industry standard pre-employment training to job seekers in a specialist three-week programme.
The programme, designed by Gateshead College, includes an introduction to intu’s 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 candidates securing a position after the introductory pre-employment scheme, and every last one of the candidates participating in Phase 7 has been offered employment.
More than 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 learned about the opportunity available through intu and Gateshead College at his local jobcentre.
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.
He 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.”