Chris' grand retail career
12 months ago, Chris Christie’s future was uncertain as he was no longer in a stable job and felt his career was going nowhere. This all changed after he completed two employability training programmes through JobSkills at Birmingham Metropolitan College (BMet) and found work at Pylones, the gift shop in Grand Central’s shopping centre.
"Before Pylones, I was on a zero hours' contract which came to an end and then I was out of work for six months," said 49-year-old Chris, "It feels good now to be in a role I enjoy and with prospects. Everyone's said positive things about Grand Central. It’s definitely helped give Birmingham a new lease of life."
Chris was offered an interview at Pylons through JobCentre Plus, who along with BMet, National Careers Service, Solihull College and University College Birmingham devised the Work Grand Central Excellence Programme aimed at local jobseekers.
"This was my first interview in 15 years, so I really appreciated the interview preparation skills I'd gained through my training course," continued Chris. "It meant I could prepare the answers to any questions I might have been asked, instead of just thinking on my feet and not expressing myself as well as I could.
"My training was also useful in other ways. Although I'd worked in retail for a number of years before this, my course opened my eyes up to new industry terminology. I was also used to completing certain procedures without understanding exactly why they had to be done a certain way. The course made me look at my previous roles from a fresh perspective. I really enjoyed it."
Chris completed a 10-day bespoke pre-employment training programme covering retail knowledge, customer service and personal and social development. He also received job search advice and guidance and interview technique training. This was followed by a course consisting of individual units of a Level 2 qualification in retail knowledge that included customer service, handling payments and visual merchandising.
"I found it beneficial to be on a course with so many people with different experiences to share," added Chris. "Some, like me, had been in retail and others were new to it. Regardless of our backgrounds, we all had something useful to bring to the table. And it was lovely to see people that were nervous or shy when they started the course soon grow in confidence.
"Many others have found work at Grand Central and in other areas of retail, which is proof that courses like this can make a difference."
JobSkills at BMet has a range of courses starting in January to help jobseekers get back into work and enrolment takes place from 5-16 January. For further details call 0845 155 0101*, visit this page or email firstname.lastname@example.org.