Mar 1, 2021
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M&S launches youth work-placements scheme

Mar 1, 2021

After several years of having to announce job losses, Marks & Spencer had much brighter news Monday. The UK retail giant it is to hire 360 young people to provide skills and training in retail.

Photo: Sandra Halliday

The move is part of the UK government’s Kickstart scheme designed to support 16-24-year-olds to step onto the career ladder. However, M&S said it is also part of then retailer's “wider commitment to employability” such as Marks & Start, “which has helped over 20,000 young people facing barriers into work”.

In partnership with The Prince’s Trust – M&S’s long-standing employability and Sparks charity partner – the retailer will deliver "two Kickstart cohorts" with placements (180 each) in April and June, “to provide vital work and life skills to 16 to 24-year-olds at risk of long-term unemployment”.

They will join as Trainee Customer Assistants for six-month placements rotating across Clothing & Home departments at M&S stores, Foodhalls, backstage operations and hospitality. 

The roles will be available across a breadth of geographical regions across the UK – including M&S’s 30 Regional Academy stores, the retailer said.  

The dedicated training programme will involve core life and work skills such as resilience and wellbeing, communication skills and building confidence in the workplace. M&S said this will prepare colleagues to join its Retail Apprenticeship programme. There will also be a key focus on digital skills and learning and participants will have access to a range of digital devices to work with to support their training.

Sacha Berendji, Retail & Property director at M&S, said: “Now more than ever, as a result of the pandemic, we know the challenges to find work are even greater for young people. That’s why we’re proud to play our part by backing the Government’s Kickstart scheme and helping to build essential employability and skills to improve their chances of finding long-term careers”.

Following the placements, M&S aims to support Kickstart colleagues to apply for permanent opportunities where available across its stores. All Kickstart colleagues will be paid in line with current in-store pay levels. 

Applications for the April cohort have opened at Jobcentre Plus locations across the UK. 

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