In order to provide further education for our tenant’s employees, Citycon has cooperated with Folkeuniversitetet (the Norwegian extended university organisation) in the cities of Bergen and Drammen in Norway for several years.
The retail industry employs around 400,000 Norwegians, and it is an industry where the education level is lower than the Norwegian average. 8 out of 10 of those who work in the retail trade have no education beyond primary or secondary education, and this is something that is changing at Citycon’s shopping centres.
At Magasinet Drammen, courses in sales and service for Citycon’s tenants’ employees started in 2013, with one course offered each year. Due to the positive feedback and a well-working cooperation, Citycon decided to increase the service. Citycon provided four courses during 2018 in finance, sales and service, organised by Folkeuniversitetet. After 50 employees took the courses in recent years, it inspired the other Citycon Drammen centers(Torget Vest and CC Drammen) to organise similar courses. In 2018, Citycon expanded the project to Oasen in Bergen. In 2019, Citycon aims to increase the amount and breadth of the courses. Together with Folkeuniversitetet, the shopping centre management has started to chart the needs of the employees. They identified economics and computer skills as an important focus area.
The centres provide suitable areas for the courses during afternoons and evenings, usually 3–4 hours per week over the course of 10–12 weeks. Both in Bergen and at the centres in Drammen, there is an additional effect beyond the individual's professional development and increased competitiveness for the centre.
“I wanted to get more knowledge about business economics, and therefore signed up for the economics course with weekly meetings at the centre. This is a great offer for all employees, regardless of which shop we are working in,” says Mona Marie Aase, Store Manager at Dressmann at Oasen Centre in Bergen.
Folkeuniversitetet is responsible for the courses in Drammen and Bergen. They are financed through the state programme KompetansePluss, which requires course participants to have a low level of formal education, and the training to be based on their workplace and tasks. The completion of the provided courses results in a certificate of completed apprenticeship, which is a formal diploma.
In addition to the benefits of having a formal diploma that shows competence in a certain field, the courses have given a boost to unity at the centres. “Once you've been together one night a week for several months, you get to know each other better across stores, businesses and floors,” says Hilde Røren, Marketing Coordinator at Citycon.