Thursday, September 29th, 2016.

Building retail knowledge: Excelsior’s Emil Kondas learns customer relationship skills from Tracy Allison.

Excelsior College students took their first steps into retail customer service as part of a link up with industry giant intu.

It can be a daunting experience dealing with customers for the first time, even in a classroom-based role-playing scenario.

But Employers in Education expert Tracy Allison put students at ease, passing on her wealth of industry knowledge to sweep away any fears and answer questions about working in a busy store.

Excelsior enjoys a Retail Gold work placement partnership with intu which owns some of the UK’s biggest shopping centres, including Newcastle’s Eldon Square and the Metro Centre in Gateshead.

The retail link-up means the latest cohort of students to embark on the course get to learn from the very best.

The Excelsior work placements are mapped around a BTEC Level 2 Retail Knowledge qualification where students learn about customer service, the retail selling process, health and safety, teamwork, retail security and retail consumer law.

Students get to work for one day a week over a six-month period on their placements at partner firms such as John Lewis, Debenhams, Waitrose and Marks and Spencer.

And the placement programme has a proven track record of success – hard-working Excelsior College student Patrick Larsen, for example, securing a job at Marks and Spencer this year after impressing on his work placement.