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Close encounters for UCOL retail students

Monday 2 September 2013

Close encounters for UCOL retail students

Masterton businesses have put their shop counters where their mouths are in recent weeks.

A variety of retail stores have provided valuable behind the counter time for 14 U-Skills students who are studying for a National Certificate in Retail through Wairarapa UCOL.

UCOL heads one of the Government’s trade’s academies – called U-Skills Central School Academy. In partnerships with local schools, places are available to Wairarapa students in years 12-13 who are studying for NCEA level 2 and also want to gain a tertiary pre trade qualification.

UCOL Wairarapa’s U-Skills Coordinator Mel Daniell says the business community has shown great support for the Retail training programme. “They have really embraced the concept,” she says.

The students are from Wairarapa College, Makoura College, Chanel College, Te Kura and the Teen Parent Unit (TPU). They are required to attend classes one day per week on the programme, with the other days spent at the students’ usual school studying towards NCEA.

“Students were placed at a variety of local retail outlets such as a Florist, clothing shops, bookshops, a bakery, cafes, hair salons, trade aid and a pharmacy,” says Mel.

Each student was required to check in at UCOL before going to their placements and was subject to surprise workplace assessments by their tutors.

Seventeen year old Yasa Hing is enrolled with Te Kura and spent six Tuesdays fulfilling her work experience at Masterton’s The Sanctuary gift shop in Queen Street.

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Yasa also works at Trade Aid to add to her time spent behind the counter.

The Sanctuary’s owner Angela McLachlan says it was great to be able to give a local student the chance to get behind the counter. “I gained from the experience too. Training Yasa made me start looking at how we do things here. I saw our processes through fresh eyes,” she says. “It made me want to review a few things.”

Angela says she is keen to continue to offer the opportunity for young people to gain work experience. “This is just one way we can contribute to our community.”

In her role as Wairarapa Coordinator, Mel is also responsible for the Trades Academy’s automotive programme. Presently there are 13 students from a variety of schools in the Wairarapa, working in UCOL’s automotive workshop for one day per week.

“In the next couple of weeks they will be going to complete a day each in various aspects of the automotive industry,” says Mel. “We are so grateful to our local businesses that are supporting these students and the U-Skills initiative, in such a practical way.

Mel says the U-Skills students will graduate from this programme with valuable and practical skills that will open up many opportunities for them for future employment.

The businesses that have taken part are Esaus Florist, Toy World, The Sanctuary, The Vault, South End Pharmacy, Hebe, Just Jeans, Maggie B’S, Paper Plus, Trade Aid, 10cc Bakery and Saunders Shoes.


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