Retail work gets NCEA credits

Struggling Welly pupils work at Warehouse

JODY O'CALLAGHAN
EDUCATION REPORTER
Last updated 05:00 04/10/2012
Coral Johnston, 16, in her Warehouse shirt
DIEGO OPATOWSKI/Fairfax NZ
JOB AND CREDITS: Coral Johnston, 16, doesn't plan on wearing the red shirt forever, but she loves retail and jumped at the chance to join the workforce.

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Wellington secondary school pupils struggling to complete NCEA can now gain credits by working at the big red shed.

The Auckland-based "Red Shirts in Schools" programme has been extended to Wellington and Christchurch, with about 30 Wellington students starting training at The Warehouse next term.

The programme targets students at risk of dropping out of school, or not progressing to work or further education. It was designed to inspire and motivate students to continue their education at school and prepare them for the workforce, Warehouse chief executive Mark Powell said.

Since 2002, more than 4000 students had completed the programme at 15 Auckland stores, with about 79 per cent graduating and gaining retail qualifications.

"We've demonstrated it's worth rolling out further as part of our commitment to tackling New Zealand's high youth unemployment."

Wellington's Retail Institute training co-ordinator, Noeline Clarke, will work with 25 to 30 pupils next term on customer service, communication, personal presentation, product knowledge and teamwork, giving a possible 27 credits towards their NCEA level 2.

They would complete six hours of work a week in the stores for 10 weeks, plus a couple of hours with her in the classroom after their shifts.

Principals - whose schools would put up the pupils' $405 fee - had already shown great interest in signing up pupils for next year, she said.

"The aim is to open a door for young people that really want to get experience, but can't get experience without experience."

They may have lower academic levels, but if they had the right work ethic and attitude, she "could work with that".

NZQA deputy chief executive Richard Thornton said the programme was aimed at earning credits toward the National Certificate in Retail (level 2), but students could also put these credits toward the 80 needed to complete NCEA level 2.

JOB PROSPECTS

Coral Johnston doesn't plan on wearing the red shirt forever, but she loves retail and jumped at the chance to join the workforce.

The Wellington 16-year-old signed up to train at The Warehouse through the Red Shirts in Schools scheme to learn and "broaden my horizons".

She is due to start on October 17. Not only was there a possible job at the end of it, but she could gain school credits and a retail certificate.

"I think that's amazing, so I jumped at it. It is pretty much being handed to me, I just have to show up and do my bit."

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A couple of years ago, Coral was "bumming around" at a mainstream high school, with not much direction in life.

"It's just not much fun."

Now she is completing NCEA through correspondence.

She studies at home until her mother returns from work about 2pm. She liked that she was achieving, and hoped to gain Level 1 or 2.

"Just getting up in the morning and having something to get up for, it's just a really good feeling."

The scheme would help with her goal, so she could "jump into the workforce. Of course it's going to keep me in school. I'm quite excited to get my red shirt."

But it "wouldn't be forever".

"Dad would love me to go to uni, but I have still got to think about that."

Contact Jody O'Callaghan
Education reporter
Email: jody.o'callaghan@dompost.co.nz
Twitter: @miss_jodyo

- The Dominion Post

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