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M&S is supporting the UK Government’s Kickstart programme by creating 360 work placements to help young people gain invaluable experience and get onto the career ladder. 

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 2021 to provide vital work and life skills to 16 to 24-year-olds at risk of long-term unemployment. 

The Kickstart colleagues will join as Trainee Customer Assistants for six-month placements rotating across Foodhalls, backstage operations, hospitality and Clothing & Home departments at M&S stores. The roles will be available across a breadth of geographical regions across the UK – including M&S’s 30 Regional Academy stores – which are its centres of excellence.  

The dedicated training programme will involve core life and work skills such as resilience and wellbeing, communication skills and building confidence in the workplace – and M&S 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, commented: 

“Through our partnership with The Princes Trust, we’re proud to have supported thousands of people who face barriers to jumpstart their careers. But 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.”

M&S has a long-standing history of providing employability opportunities through its Marks & Start scheme. Since 2004, together with partners including The Prince’s Trust, M&S has supported over 20,000 young people, who are at a disadvantage, to find an accessible route into work through the programme. 

Additionally, M&S offers a range of early careers opportunities with roles across its business – including apprenticeships, school leavers and its graduate scheme.

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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