Retail Gold students, teachers, retailers and special guests
Image Source: intu
Retail Gold Celebration 2018

Member Article

Curtain Up for Retail Gold

Award winning fashion and costume designer Paul Shriek was the keynote speaker at an event celebrating the success of hard-working pupils from the north east.

Year 12 students have been working with intu shopping centres to learn from the best about working in the retail & hospitality sectors, and celebrated their success with a ceremony at The Mansion House, Newcastle.

The graduates, all Retail Gold ‘Class of 2018’ were joined by teachers, retailers and The Lord Mayor of Newcastle, Councillor Linda Wright, and the Mayor of Gateshead, Councillor Jill Green.

Award winning Newcastle based international theatrical designer Paul Shriek spoke at the event about his foray into retail and how the experience shaped his working career. Recently, Paul won a national honour for Best Costume Design at the Great British Panto Awards for his work with The Customs House in South Shields.

Gavin Prior, regional centre director for intu Metrocentre and intu Eldon Square, said:

“Paul made such a huge impact when he spoke at last year’s Retail Gold celebrations, we really had to invite him back after he walked away with this prestigious national award for best costume design; he was up against the very best costume designers in the business and specifically the mighty force and enormous budget of the London Palladium.”

Paul Shriek added:

“I thoroughly enjoyed speaking at the Retail Gold awards last year, but at that time had no idea I was going to be even nominated for this national award!

“I feel like Jack who has climbed a very tall beanstalk and won the goose who has laid the golden egg. To bring home this award is both very humbling and extremely gratifying for a lad from Ashington who makes frocks for a living!

“I thoroughly enjoyed sharing my story with The Retail Gold Class of 2018, who are all starting on their own personal journeys, and like me, have had this amazing grounding in the world of retail.”

Retail Gold is an extended schools’ work experience programme, delivered by north east based education consultancy Employers in Education, in association with shopping giant intu, owners of intu Eldon Square and intu Metrocentre.

Since 2005, world class Retail Gold has placed more than 498 students with 30 different retailers at both north east shopping centres, and they learn what work is really like, but do so in an environment that is supportive and professional. The programme is part of students’ BTEC studies for Retail, Business and Work skills, and enables young people to develop essential employability skills, raise self-confidence and gain a thorough insight into all aspects of working in retail.

During the academic year 2017/18, students from Newcastle, Gosforth Academy and Excelsior Academy, and Emmanuel College in Gatehsead have been attending weekly work placements at a wide variety of stores at intu Eldon Square and intu Metrocentre, including Debenhams, House of Fraser, John Lewis, and WH Smith, HMV, Lush, Waitrose, Flying Tiger and intu Customer Service.

Tracy Allison, Retail Gold lead and owner, Employers in Education, commented:

“It’s gratifying to see 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.

“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 important for social mobility because it helps open students’ eyes to careers they may not have considered. Ofsted now includes career guidance specifically within the inspection framework.

“The support of intu and businesses within their two North East shopping centres has enabled Retail Gold to grow into a work experience programme that adds real value and has become an integral part of the offer schools make to their students.”

Alexander Nicoll, corporate responsibility director at intu, added:

“Retail Gold would never 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 13 years retailers have delivered 54,000 hours of on-site training. Many participants in the Retail Gold programme are offered part-time employment following their placements, and some go on to a full-time career in the retail sector.

“As a responsible business intu is pleased to note that an initiative we have supported and delivered for the last 13 years, fits so well with the description of “good careers guidance” from the latest in depth research undertaken for the UK Government.

The recognition by Department for Education officials, describing Retail Gold as an ‘excellent example of practice and impact in Careers Education,’ helps to explain why our Retail Gold partnership between intu, local schools, our retailers and restaurants, has enjoyed such longevity“.

Adam Green Leader of Teaching and Learning in Business and Enterprise, Gosforth Academy, commented:

“Retail Gold is a wonderful initiative. Supported by intu, the programme has, over the thirteen years it has been running, enabled close to 190 sixth form students from Gosforth Academy to benefit from a real-life work experience as part of their study programme - a regular placement in a high quality local retail environment.

“Every year we see the nervous, shy, inexperienced students who arrive in September, grow into confident and knowledgeable young adults, thanks in no small part to the help and support of retailers such as John Lewis and Debenhams. For Gosforth Academy, Retail Gold has become an integral part of our successful one-year ‘Access for A Level’ programme. It ensures that we can offer students on the course opportunities to develop fully as individuals, learning what it really means to be a worker, a learner and a helper; enabling them to make informed choices about the next stage in their life, whether that be further study, training or work. It has been fantastic to see our students go on to be successful knowing that their time on the Retail Gold Programme has helped them to be so. I still see and speak to some of our former Retail Gold students and their time on the programme is always a topic of conversation.”

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Lyn Spencer .

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