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M&S to offer 1,400 work placements to young people

Marks & Spencer has launched a new youth employability scheme – Make Your Mark – in which the retailer will partner with youth charity, The Prince’s Trust, to create over 1,400 work experience placements for 16-25 year olds.

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

M&S to offer 1,400 work placements to young people

With one in five 16-24 year olds in the labour force currently struggling to find a job, the retailer hopes the training and job placement programme will help to address the skills and experience gap that prevents young people from finding work.

M&S said the scheme will lead to an eight-fold increase in the number of unemployed young people that it takes into work experience. Recruits will undergo a four-week programme with up to 37 hours per week spent either in training or on the shop floor. This will include three days of tailored training modules to increase participants’ knowledge of the retail industry and help them to develop workplace and life skills such as CV writing, networking and confidence building.

During the four-week programme, participants will complete an unpaid work experience placement in an M&S store. Regular feedback and guidance counselling will be provided via a dedicated buddy and career coach to ensure the participants achieve M&S standards of customer service.

M&S said that those young people who performed well and received a satisfactory evaluation following the placement, could go straight into a vacancy if and when one became available. If the young person needed additional support prior to employment, or if there was no job available at their store, they would receive six months post-placement support with The Prince’s Trust to help them find an alternative opportunity.

Marc Bolland, M&S chief executive, said: “Youth unemployment has become one of today’s key social issues and we want to lead the charge for businesses to do more to tackle it head on. That’s why we’ve set aside 1,400 new placements for young people in our stores and have called on our suppliers and other businesses to start engaging their communities and make their own commitments to youth opportunity, using the 2% benchmark as we have.”

Martina Milburn, chief executive of The Prince’s Trust, added: “There are hundreds of thousands of young people out there who are currently struggling to find a job. Youth unemployment can contribute to low self-esteem, feelings of hopelessness and even depression. Make Your Mark is set to help those young people furthest from the jobs market. We are looking forward to working with Marks & Spencer and witnessing the incredible benefits this will bring to the next generation.”

The Make Your Mark scheme will have three intakes throughout the year at stores across the UK. The first intake will be on 1 July, with further sessions running in September and February.

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