“By hiring students from Mount Ridley College, we were able to open a new store with local knowledge, passionate staff and the ability to provide exceptional, localised customer service.” -Leah Theodosiadis, Best&Less Store Manager
Purpose of the project
Mount Ridley College is a Victorian State Government school for preparatory to Year 12 students. It is located near the APPF Retail owned Craigieburn Central Shopping Centre in an area where many students face economic, family or social challenges which often make it difficult to break the cycle of youth unemployment.
In partnership with the Australian Business and Community Network (ABCN), Lendlease developed a program that gives Year 10 business students firsthand experience in developing a retail business by providing mentoring and fundraising opportunities for students with their Student Shops program.
To bring the Student Shops to life, the Lendlease team at Craigieburn Central provided students with weekly practical lessons in marketing, retail, finance and personal branding. Students used these skills to pitch their business ideas to a Lendlease panel with the winning Student Shop ideas brought to life at Craigieburn Central in October 2016. The Craigieburn Central team continue to support the college with initiatives such as work experience programs, career advice during ‘Speed Career’ Day, free space in-centre to fundraise for uniforms and allowing students to perform in-centre during key retail periods.
Following the success of the program, the Craigieburn Central team identified an incoming retailer Best&Less as a potential employer for local students and connected them with Mount Ridley College during the store’s recruitment program. Twelve students gained employment as a result of this collaboration.
The key success factors were:
- Being aware of community issues and needs;
- Considering marketing/community engagement programs that are win/win;
- Employees that are passionate and committed;
- Supportive management/leadership environment.
Whilst this particular initiative was heavily tailored to the local region, business engagement with local schools is often an opportunity.