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Training meets needs of retail sector

A Queensland pilot project between the National Retail Association and Disability Works Australia to deliver retail training to people with a disability has been hailed a success, and has achieved significant employment outcomes.

The pilot project, which was launched by Prime Minister John Howard last year, involved recruiting and training candidates who had the potential to flourish in the retail sector.

Paul Willis, the National Retail Association's General Manager of Training and Development, said the initiative was welcome becuase there are extensive skills shortages throughout Australia across the retail sector. NRA has a strong national membership of large, medium and small retailers, including franchisors and franchisees.

"By tapping into new labour markets, such as people with disabilities, it opens up an exciting pool of talent for employers," Mr Willis said.

Called Ready and Able, the project involved 45 jobseekers, who undertook six weeks job readiness and retail training and two weeks of work experience with a retailer. The pilot was funded by the Australian Government's Department of Employment and Workplace Relations.

Disability Works Australia supported the pilot project by providing recruitment and selection processes and daily classroom support as part of the formal training component delivered by the National Retail Association. DWA also is assisting in "marketing" the candidates to retail employers and supporting employers in overcoming any barriers.

The nationally recognised training addressed skills and knowledge that employers are seeking, such as point-of-sale handling techniques, selling and product knowledge skills, communication and customer service skills, and visual merchandising techniques.

The success of the pilot has resulted in a further project in Brisbane, with options for Ready and Able projects in other States. Disability Works Australia and NRA are also working together on projects in South Australia, supported by the SA Government.

"The great success of the pilot program was the increased self awareness and self esteem that the participants gained, enabling them to overcome barriers restricting them from joining the job market," Mr Willis said.

 

"Ready and Able is the best program for anyone who wants to get into retail. I got sick and tired of knockbacks every time I went for an interview to do with retail. So I joined the program. Without it, I wouldn't be where I am today. I started with Action as a shop assistant in the produce department...now after six weeks I am second-in-charge of the department." - Noel Wells, August 2005

 

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