The Brunel helps students prepare for the working world

A new initiative, Retail Codex, instigated by The Brunel Shopping Centre, is helping to improve the employability and life skills of students in Swindon.

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Retail Codex is a six-month long project being delivered by learning partners Procter, supported by The Brunel Centre and Marks & Spencer who are providing guest speakers and facilities for selected students from Swindon Academy.

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Focused on helping young people understand the many aspects of working in a retail environment, the programme uses a mix of classroom teaching, project work, and hands-on experience and has been designed to help students improve their confidence, communication skills and problem-solving abilities.

It is widely accepted that employers increasingly feel that many candidates fresh from school lack the life skills needed to transition smoothly into working life – and this programme proposes to address that gap for its pilot audience in Swindon.

The idea for Retail Codex came from Jane Stewart, Deputy General Manager at The Brunel Centre, who said: “When people think about working in the retail world they tend to think only about working in a shop when in reality there are so many functions they can get involved in.”

“Earlier this year we worked with M&S to give students from Swindon Academy a taste of designing shop front window displays and dressing them with their own creations.  This type of project can help young people understand just how varied, and valuable, all the different aspects of working in retail can be.”

Matt Hawke, Store Manager of M&S Swindon, said: “M&S are really excited about supporting this initiative. The programme helps students develop those life skills and allows them the opportunity to experience first-hand what it is like to work with customers, the public and other work colleagues.  This experience inevitably helps the youngsters improve their planning and organisational skills, creative thinking and, most importantly, their confidence.”