The partnership between Grand Central and TAFE Queensland South West has seen enormous success in the year since its inception, with 186 students taking advantage of available training places under the program to date.
Delivering practical, industry-relevant retail and hospitality training in the Toowoomba region, the program is providing funding for up to 550 places in TAFE courses, giving locals a competitive edge when applying for jobs.
Of the 186 enrolled students, 97 are now qualified, with many taking advantage of the 1,000 new retail or hospitality jobs created at Grand Central through the $525 million redevelopment project.
One success story for the program is that of ex-journalist Linda Mantova, who opted for a career change to retail after 30 years in journalism.
"I just wanted a change in career, but I found a lot of people didn't see my 30 years' experience enough to do retail," Ms Mantova said.
“I kept getting knocked back by jobs for having no retail experience so I thought I'd do a retail course.”
Through the support from Grand Central, Ms Mantova enrolled in a subsidised Certificate II in Retail Services, and after graduating snagged a job with men's store Rodd & Gunn at Grand Central.
Grand Central Centre Manager Shaine Beverage said the program has been delivering flow on benefits for the Centre as well as the community.
“It’s wonderful to see some of these graduates stepping into roles at Grand Central – the training they’ve received equips them with the confidence and skills to excel in their roles, as well as providing outstanding service for visitors to the Centre,” Mr Beverage said.
“It can be hard break into the retail and hospitality industries, and it’s great for the whole community when there are avenues for Toowoomba locals to grow their skills and access rewarding career opportunities.”