Retail students with cognitive disabilities get some real-world business experience
Students at TRU may have noticed something different in Student Street on Thursday, Oct. 23. The Education and Skills Training program (ESTR) has opened a new student-run kiosk as part of its retail workers program. The kiosk will be mainly open Tuesdays and Thursday with hours of operation varying.
Products on offer include items from the TRU Bookstore and from seven small business entrepreneurs, including a TRU student that makes homemade jewelry.
The ESTR program trains students with cognitive disabilities with the skills needed for entry-level employment. This includes both on and off-campus work experience and partnerships with various employers in Kamloops.
The retail pilot project in Old Main is thanks to a $10,000 grant from the Robert L. Conconi Foundation, which the seven students enrolled in the retail program used to purchase a cart and point of sale system.
“[The kiosk] is a great opportunity for students to connect classroom theory to real employment training. It’ll develop student confidence and independence in addition to specific retail skills,” said ESTR instructor Leanne Mihalicz.
Students are also eager to learn entrepreneurial skills through the project.
“I’m excited to learn what people with small businesses have to go through to get to where they are now,” said ESTR student Autumn Greenaway.
Since the project is a pilot project, Mihalicz said she hopes any profits made will help sustain the kiosk over time.
“We want to use it for student training,” she said. “We have worked on marketing, pricing, packaging and monitoring inventory, all things that the students don’t get an opportunity to work on in an outside store.”
“I’m really excited about it and I want it to see us to success,” Greenaway said.
The kiosk will run until Christmas break and open again in January and run until April. Mihalicz encourages students interested in consigning items to email her at email@example.com.