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A thousand young Kiwis not currently in employment, training or education will get a foot on the job ladder thanks to a new programme being rolled out by The Warehouse and the Ministry of Social Development.
Announced today, The Warehouse ‘Red Shirts in Community’ programme allows young people aged 16 - 24 to gain work experience at a local Warehouse store.
Participants receive training in retail customer service, communication skills, personal presentation, stock management, and basic Health and Safety. It is believed to be the largest employer-led youth employment initiative in the country.
Where there is the opportunity, participants can also earn credits towards a National Certificate in Retail (Level 2 NCEA) and a Customer Service Award from The Warehouse. All participants receive a certificate of participation and a verbal reference which can then be used as part of the job seeking process.
David Benattar, Group Chief Experience Officer at The Warehouse, said the initial pilot focused on areas with high youth unemployment: Kaitaia, Whanganui and Wellington.
“Of the pilot, 70 per cent of the participants gained some form of paid employment within three months of completing the programme, which speaks to its’ success,” he said.
20-year-old Taylor Booth participated in the Wellington Red Shirts pilot programme and now works in the Online Team at the Lyall Bay store. She said the experience made her feel ‘more like a responsible adult.’
“I like how every day is different and fast paced, you get asked all types of interesting questions.”
She enjoyed getting to see ‘behind the scenes’ in the store and learning from the team members.
Mr Benattar says the change in participants over the course of the programme is remarkable.
“Often when they first arrive with us they are very shy. To see their communication skills and confidence improve over the three weeks they spend with us is awesome.”
The programme was developed as part of The Warehouse Group’s mission to help New Zealanders flourish and formed an important part of their Community and Environment Strategy, he said.
“This is a very practical way that we are using our expertise and scale to directly benefit the youth of New Zealand. And the great thing is we know this programme has a positive ripple effect right through the community.”