By Darren Lum
Published Jan. 18 2018
The local retail sector is getting a shot in the arm from SIRCH Community Services with the launch of its latest program Ready for Retail – Training for Excellence.
According to SIRCH for two days a week from Feb. 5 to May 14 Ready for Retail participants will learn by doing. They will earn certifications (customer service first aid/CPR and WHMIS) and be taught how to be ideal retail employees and then put what they learned into practice at the beginning of March when they will open and operate the Thrift Warehouse located at 128 Mallard Road off of Industrial Park Road in Haliburton every Monday. Typically the warehouse is closed Mondays but for the duration of this program the 8000 square-foot-store will be open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Each day there will giveaways activities discounts and “freebies.”
Participants will learn skills related to the operation of the Thrift Warehouse including taking inventory and accounting for donations or with work related to the front of the store with helping customers and using the cash register. Everyone will rotate so that all the participants receive a thorough education for a well-rounded professional development.
Training co-ordinator Dianne Woodcock said the program is open to anyone 18 and older with an interest.
“They don’t have to have experience or anything like that” she said. “It’s for anybody that wants to improve their knowledge and perhaps improve their employment situation” she said.
Potential program applicants will have a pre-screening interview to assess commitment of time and if he/she is able to fulfill duties associated with this learning experience.
SIRCH is a member of the Haliburton Highlands Chamber of Commerce and learned local retailers need skilled retail employees. This program hopes to meet the needs of employers by equipping potential employees with the required skills and experience for retail.
Ready for Retail follows the model of SIRCH’s Cook It Up training an annual food services training program.
“One of the great things about this and Cook it Up is that it does create a relationship an ongoing interaction between the trainees and the public as well as the potential employer. That’s a very exciting component to this and Cook it Up” Woodcock said.
From the Cook it Up program SIRCH learned there are four components for success and have applied the same approach with this program by partnering with local businesses promoting meaningful ongoing interaction between trainees and the public emphasizing the attitude of gratitude and offering this program for free.
“Our community is amazing when it comes to helping the trainees practice their skills” said SIRCH executive director Gena Robertson in a press release. “We know that part of the phenomenal success of Cook It Up has been the interaction with the public in a ‘real’ restaurant. We wanted to create the same type of scenario with Ready for Retail – and Thrift Warehouse is the perfect place to practice.”
Highlands retailers have been supportive about coming to help during the preparation phase in February Woodcock said.
“We’ve gone out to the retail community … to get participation in terms of doing on-site training that maybe they come and facilitate perhaps a half an hour of what they feel is important to customer service or have a job shadowing in their store. We’ve got very positive response on that request from many of them” she said.
Woodcock hopes this program will foster a relationship between local businesses and the program participants.
This program is the result of a partnership between SIRCH the John Howard Society of City of Kawartha Lakes/Haliburton who funded the program and the Fleming CREW Employment Program for classroom training.
Anyone interested in participating in the Ready for Retail training program can contact SIRCH AT firstname.lastname@example.org or 705-457-1742.
Transportation options can be discussed for anyone who requires it Woodcock said.
At the heart of the program is the goal of helping employers hire local residents.
“The more skilled people that can be available obviously the better the opportunity for an employer to hire within” she said.