In Kalgoorlie two Coles stores have employed indigenous team members after a First Steps three-week training program aimed at participants who have been out of the workforce for some time or who have not previously been employed.

Coles State general manager Mark O’Connor said since the program originated in Cairns six years ago it has received a 90 per cent retention rate and was significantly higher than the rest of the business. The First Steps program which has been running nationally since 2011 focuses on giving people the opportunity to understand the workplace environment and what business is all about.

“The program is a three- week training course which involves a trainer that comes in full time Monday to Friday and teaches the participants about understanding the workplace, understanding Coles and everything that goes with the retail environment,” he said.

“It includes 15 hours of employment per week over three shifts for five hours and focuses on self-development and customer service, which is what our business is about.”

The program, which offers part- time work to participants who have completed it, includes a 26-week post placement mentoring component designed to ensure team members are receiving what they need in their roles.

“This is for people interested in part-time employment,” Mr O’Connor said.

“The program won the Human Rights Commission business award in 2015 — which is great recognition of the First Steps program because it shows the value the program has and the results we get out of it, the retention in particular is fantastic,” he said.

The new Kalgoorlie candidates will begin employment at a Coles Express store and a liquor store.