21 November 2014
In 2004 M&S set a clear goal to help disadvantaged people into work through our Marks & Start employability programme. Testament to the desire and need for such a programme, and also its success, we are celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. We are extremely proud of this milestone, with Marks & Start having supported over 10,000 people in 10 years through training and work experience in our stores and offices.
We work with four programme partners to support those who face barriers to employment. These partnerships ensure we reach a broad and often highly disadvantaged cross-section of the population: Remploy (people with disabilities and health conditions), Business in the Community (homeless or those at risk of homelessness), Gingerbread (lone parents) and Prince’s Trust (young people between the ages of 16-25). We have also supported a number of ex-offenders through the programme, via the above partners.
For many, joining Marks & Start has changed their lives, with 90% reporting increased confidence and that it has helped them in their steps to find work. The programme structure sets participants up for success: following the pre-placement training from the charity partners, participants spend 2-4 weeks on a training placement in one of our stores or offices.
Each person is paired with a buddy and a coach, spending their placement working alongside their buddy who helps to give everyday support and the coach who will guide the participants in three key areas: The M&S service behaviours, M&S products and M&S services. To maximise employability prospects, the charity partner supports the participant after their placement to ensure each individual reaches the right outcome for them. The most powerful part of the programme is the accreditation process which means that if the individual shows real aptitude for the role, and is deemed suitable to employ, they can take any M&S vacancy in any store within a 6 month period - without having to apply online or be assessed. We see their placement as a more-than-adequate assessment of their capability. This removes one of the biggest barriers to employment that these individuals face.
We are delighted that over the last 10 years around 40% of participants have gone into employment with M&S or another employer, with this reaching over 50% during some years. With over 10,000 people having passed through the programme we continue to celebrate the diversity to our workforce this brings, and the moving life stories that sit behind the figures, seen in a quote from one of our recent participants: “it’s changed my life, I thought I’d never get a job, that no one would employee me, Marks & Start has turned my life around.”
If you’ve read this and want to find out more or read some stories of individuals who have come through the programme please click here. Interested applicants should contact one of Marks & Start’s programme partners directly. Further information on the programme, in addition to how to apply, can all be found on the website above.
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