Nine Lafayette (GA) High School students earned just a bit more edge in the job search game thanks to their graduation from a Goodwill retail certification pilot program. The program was introduced last fall at Lafayette High School to teach students industry standard retail skills of customer service and sales. The 18-week offering included both book-learning and hands-on training and resulted in the students’ earning a National Retail Federation certification.

At the end of the program and upon successful completion of an NRF-approved examination, students received professional certification and can now tell potential employers that they can assess and meet customer needs and can learn about and tell customers about products and services. The National Retail Federation says that the certification will give individuals an edge in the retail hiring process or any industry that requires customer service.

An essential component of the program for each student was a four-week internship served at an area retail establishment. Teams of two or three students were accompanied by a job coach (Goodwill interns in are Master of Social Work programs) and spent 90 minutes on-site Monday through Friday for job shadowing, assisting, stocking, tagging and doing other tasks as needed.

In addition to Chattanooga Goodwill Industries, the program was also sponsored by Lafayette High School and the Georgia Department of Vocational Rehabilitation.