Bright Lights at Teesside

By Lucinda Bell
Chief Financial Officer at British Land

27 Oct 2016

Last week I had the pleasure of joining some of our first Bright Lights retail trainees and special guests for a celebration event at Teesside, Stockton.

As part of our Bright Lights skills programme, we’ve rolled out a new pre-employment training scheme at six of our regional retail centres. It’s all about getting local young people into work. Tailored retail and customer service training is combined with work placements, offered by a range of retail and leisure occupiers – whose support we appreciate. The five-week programme is run by The Source Skills Academy – the training centre we established with Sheffield City Council in 2003.

It was wonderful to hear the young people’s stories about finding the courage to come to the taster day, then signing up and flourishing on the programme. It can be tough to get a foot on the ladder. How do you get a job when employers want experience but when you need a job to gain that experience? We’re delighted that almost half of the 60 Bright Lights graduates around the UK have already been offered jobs.

The Mayor of Stockton, Councillor Ken Dixon, awarded the certificates at Teesside. The graduates all commented on how they’d enjoyed the work, made friends and felt more confident. They’d gained insights into how retail works and placements mean that, when they go for interviews, they’ll perform better on teamwork and assessment tests.

Retail and leisure brands offer some fantastic career opportunities, and people can progress quite quickly – going from barista to bar manager, sales assistant to regional manager. Teesside alone supports one job in every 100 across the Tees Valley, with up to 2,400 jobs at the centre. 

Bright Lights pre-employment training is helping local young people build their skills and, at the same time, linking occupiers with a pool of incredible talent on their doorstep. 

Connecting with local communities is at the heart of everything we do; we know that it’s people who make places – people who are motivated and enthusiastic, like these Bright Lights graduates. The welcome that visitors receive when they visit Teesside is part of why they go back again and again.

We held several celebration events around the UK, but it was particularly special to be at Teesside, which is also celebrating its 25th birthday this month. After a year of activity as part of a £30m complete transformation, the centre’s looking great. There’s also a wider food offer, with much excitement about Nando’s opening shortly and an innovative new food concept launching next month.

Maybe some of the graduates will be amongst the UK’s retail and hospitality leaders, 25 years from now…


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