Training 'shop' for special needs students

At Retail@DSS, students learn how to fold and arrange clothes, iron them with a clothes steamer, and manage the fitting room, among other tasks.
At Retail@DSS, students learn how to fold and arrange clothes, iron them with a clothes steamer, and manage the fitting room, among other tasks.ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

Special needs students at APSN Delta Senior School (DSS) are now able to hone their retail skills in a mini Uniqlo "store" at school.

Retail@DSS, a fashion retail training room, is a collaboration between trendy Japanese brand Uniqlo Singapore and DSS.

It is the first of its kind for a special needs school here, said Mr Victor Tay, president of the Association for Persons with Special Needs (APSN). "In the past, classrooms mainly focused on theory-based learning. Training rooms are a better way to simulate a real-life environment for our students," he said.

Since March, the 64 students in DSS' retail operations programme have been using the space to learn how to manage the cashier counter; fold, arrange and iron the clothes; and manage the fitting room, among other tasks.

APSN runs programmes for special needs students who aspire to work, and runs five schools, including a centre for adults. The new room will be also be used to conduct numeracy lessons, where students can pick up budgeting skills.

Mr Muhammad Saifullah, 19, a third-year retail operations student, said his favourite task is managing the cashier counter. His mother, Mrs Zanizah Ghazali, 49, who said he has low IQ, is reassured about the quality of the training. "I want him to have a good job in the future."

This is the first time that fashion retailer Uniqlo, which employs 30 disabled workers in Singapore, has set up a training space within a special education school.Uniqlo chief operating officer Yuichi Ito said: "Our task, which is selling products, is not a very difficult one. We want to give this opportunity to everyone."

Mr Tay said retailers face challenges in finding local staff , so special needs workers can fill the gap.

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Students get hands-on fashion retail training str.sg/46tm

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 19, 2017, with the headline 'Training 'shop' for special needs students'. Print Edition | Subscribe