Pupils get a taste of co-op life as work experience returns to Southern Co-op

‘Working with us is their first taste of a career and gives them the chance to see what goes on behind the scenes’

Southrtn Co-op is taking more than 60 Year 10 students under its wings as work experience returns for the first time in two years, after Covid-19 forced its suspension.

Students from schools across the south will be carrying out their work experience at the society in June and July – each spending one week or two at head office or in a retail store.

Over half of the students are from schools in the Portsmouth and surrounding areas thanks to a partnership with the work experience team at EBP South. There are also students from Bedminster, Lenham, Southampton, Bristol, Horsham, Poole, Basingstoke, Eastbourne and Norton Fitzwarren.

Linda Masterman​, Southern’s diversity & inclusion manager, said: “For a lot of the pupils, working with us is their first taste of a career and gives them the chance to see what goes on behind the scenes.

“We give each of the students a work book to get them to think about what they get out of it and hopefully they can think about the kind of work they want to go into in the future.

“We have had some absolutely amazing feedback from both colleagues and students so we are very happy to be able to offer work experience again. It’s been a pleasure.”

Feedback from students so far has been that it is ‘really hard work but I am enjoying it’, that ‘the store team have been really friendly’ and that ‘the objectives page on the workbook made me think about what I wanted to get out of my work experience’.

Managers comments have been equally as positive including ‘they have been a joy to work with’, ‘what a pleasant young man’ and ‘he has been lovely to work with’.

At Southern Co-op’s head office, Year 10 student Jack Heaton from Cowplain School, has been doing work experience with the trading and formats team.

Jack, 15, said: “I wanted to know what the insides of a business look like. It’s quite like I expected just with lower dividers between desks. It’s a nice environment.

“I have learnt a lot about planograms. Every time I walk into a Co-op now, I will probably understand why products are placed where they are. I thought they just had the same plan and just refilled it all of the time.”