The pilot of a financially incentivised retail training and employment program has seen retailers reap the benefits of tailored training and store placements.
Recruitment of new, reliable staff is an important issue for any retail business, however, some retailers, including The Coffee Club and Masters Home
Improvement, have embraced a new avenue of retail training and recruitment in conjunction with the ARA Retail Institute, Employment Plus, and Jobactive.
The successful Retail Ready Jobs program, which provides free training and incentives for retailers, ran as a pilot in 2015 and will see a full rollout in 2016 across retailers nationwide.
In the case of The Coffee Club, the course engaged 16 students in Brisbane and Melbourne for five weeks, with participants receiving a Certificate Three in Retail qualification at its completion, and six of those going on to work within The Coffee Club stores.
Jarrod Appleby, HR Advisor at The Coffee Club, said the program has been extended across all states this year, and has provided the company with access to reliable, eager staff that would have been difficult to find through traditional employment channels.
“The employment market is quite tough in certain areas, and this is certainly a program that franchisees will be able to utilise to provide them with motivated candidates that really want to work for The Coffee Club, and I think that’s key,” Mr Appleby said.
“In terms of people that are unemployed or under employed, it’s good to employ people that really want to work in hospitality and work for The Coffee Club. Once they show commitment through a five week program, you find people that are really engaged with the brand and are grateful to be given an opportunity and have a career with The Coffee Club.”
Students of the Retail Ready Jobs program are sourced via the Government’s Jobactive program, which aims to provide work and training opportunities for under employed or unemployed Australians.
Devised by the Salvation Army’s Employment Plus arm, suitable candidates are selected and interviewed by Employment Plus and the retailer, with those most suitable gaining entry to the training.
“After five weeks, they are coming in with a strong understanding of the business,” said Mr Appleby. “They’ve had their classroom training, have worked instore for a couple of weeks, and they’re really engaged working for The Coffee Club.
“If you employ someone off the street, you’re employing someone straight away, but you’ve still got to invest a lot of time and money to train them. We’re still investing in that, but at the point where they are ready to start their paid employment, they’re ready to go,” he said.
The ARA Retail Institute as a Government registered training organisation (RTO) provides and facilitates all classroom training, with work placement carried out in the retailer’s stores.
Garry Terrill, ARA Retail Institute Director of Training and Consulting, said ARA members have been attracted to the program because of the ability to tailor training to suit their service delivery needs. Each program can be tailored to individual retailers, with the ARA Retail Institute and Employment Plus working with the retailer to devise a suitable format with a mix of store placement and classroom lessons.
“The fact that the training and induction process are incredibly seamless is a win for time poor businesses,” said Mr Terrill.
“The program is really useful for retailers who want to manage peak employment periods, trial talent prior to job placement, or reduce the time it takes to build productive team members.
“For retailers opening new stores, it’s a great avenue for sourcing new staff, with the ARA Retail Institute able to assist in the recruitment process,” he said.
While participants are not guaranteed a job at the completion of the retail training, those who do not receive an offer of work walk away with a recognised qualification and hands on work experience.
Kim Rokoloa, Employment Plus Regional Manager, who played a key role in the development of Retail Ready Jobs, said it provides support to both students and retailers by paying for training, uniforms, and wage subsidies.
“The opportunity is to give candidates a try before you buy approach and identify what area they could work in and excel. In instances where the retailer is not right for them, they get an idea of where they could go next and what might be a suitable employer. There’s no pressure to join.
“It also allows retailers the opportunity to train staff the way they want them to be trained in their processes and procedures,” said Ms Rokoloa.
“Retailers get all of it funded, there’s no cost to them, and there’s financial subsidies for up to 12 months depending on eligibility. It’s a huge opportunity for employers to embark on getting a more solid long term workforce with financial incentives.”
Ms Rokoloa says there is also a significant feel-good factor and positive PR for the retailer involved.
“One particular candidate who has gone through the program and is now working at The Coffee Club is a young girl who relocated from NSW to Queensland. She was in some bad circumstances, and
this program has turned her life around.
“There’s a community feel-good around helping people, and that social commitment from the employer shines a light on the type of people it helps.
“The Coffee Club found a good, long term employee that people would have overlooked at the start, and yet, she’s the best employee from this whole program.
“That’s a benefit to employers – we put the time and effort into turning her into the candidate and person they needed her to be,” she said.
Retailers interested in becoming involved with the program can visit www.retailreadyjobs.com, or phone Mick Soldatovic at the ARA Retail Institute on (03) 8660 3321 for more information or to discuss creating your own training program.
This article first appeared in The Retailer’s February edition – the ARA’s dedicated retail magazine.