14 March 2024

Shellharbour TAFE's tiny supermarket provides vital stepping stone for students with a disability

| Keeli Royle
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MINI Woolworths checkout

A new training facility is teaching TAFE students valuable retail skills before they enter the workplace. Photos: Keeli Royle.

A new Mini Woolies store within Shellharbour’s TAFE campus is set to provide hands-on retail experience and act as a stepping stone into the workplace for students with a disability.

The supermarket simulation is the first of its kind for the area and TAFE NSW Manufacturing and Engineering Team Leader for Southern Region Phil Clarson said it would provide exciting opportunities for students.

“The transformation of a classroom into an actual Mini Woolies is invaluable; it’s like going into the real thing, so when they do go into the workforce, they will step into a scenario exactly the same as what it is here,” he said.

“So they’ll feel comfortable and they’ll know exactly what they’ve got to do and step up to their role.”

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The facility will support students working towards completing nationally recognised units in a Certificate II in Retail and help successfully transition into employment.

“It’s a very valuable training centre there where they can get all those life skills that they’ll need out in the workforce,” Mr Clarson said.

“It gives students with a disability the opportunity to work in a real-life environment and gain the knowledge and the confidence to enter the workforce and become a contributing member of the community.”

Cutting ribbon Mini Woolies Shellharbour TAFE

Shellharbour TAFE is the first in the region to open the Mini Woolies training facility.

Woolworths Group General Manager of the Mini Woolies Program and Enterprise Operations Sarah Corey said the replication of key elements seen in Woolworths stores helped create a unique immersive training experience.

“We have products on shelves, we have baskets, we have uniforms, we have registers, and it’s to allow the students to learn retail experience in the safe environment of their campus here at TAFE,” Ms Corey said.

“I think we all learn in different ways and to learn that physical touch and feel of picking up products, taking products to a register and scanning it, I think it gives that different skill set and it gives that real life simulation of what the workforce is really like in retail.”

The skills gained from the interactive experience encapsulate every element of the retail process and different areas the students could be involved in if they worked in a supermarket.

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With TAFE able to order stock online to be delivered onsite, Ms Corey said students could experience the end-to-end process of every role.

“From ordering products, understanding what products they need, putting products away on the shelf, then being a shopper, so shopping for goods, taking it to a register, queuing, handing over money,” she said.

“And then for the students on the other side, actually scanning the products, bagging the items, learning those interaction and communication skills of talking to the customer, engaging in idle chitchat, talking about tendering of the money and then actually doing the money transaction with the customer and seeing them off to have a nice day.”

The new Mini Woolies site follows a successful trial at TAFE’s Loftus campus and joins more than 53 locations across the country at schools and post-school providers to support students from Kindergarten through to tertiary level education.

To find out more visit the TAFE NSW website.

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