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Every week our Stores Director Helen Milford publishes a blog for our 70,000 store colleagues. This week marks an important week for M&S, as our first cohort of Kickstart colleagues finish their in-store placements and latest cohort of Marks & Start colleagues begin theirs - so to mark this, we wanted to share this week’s version of Helen’s blog.

At the heart of M&S is our remarkable people, including those just getting started in their careers. We’ve been backing early careers for over 17 years now and have some fantastic programmes in place to support young people who are experiencing the world of work for the first time. 

As we celebrate the completion of our fantastic first Kickstart programme, we’re also really pleased to be welcoming our next cohort of Marks and Start colleagues, so we can continue to support future talent.

Congratulations to our Kickstarters!

I want to say a huge congratulations to the 107 Kickstart colleagues who are finishing their programme this week, having completed rotations through every aspect of our stores with bespoke training from both M&S and the Princes’ Trust. 

I’m really pleased that 90 of these colleagues will be staying on beyond the programme in a mixture of permanent and fixed term roles. It’s been amazing to watch your confidence and skills grow during your placements and I know you really appreciate the support you’ve had from your host stores.

The Kickstart programme is a government-backed scheme which was introduced to support young people who had been adversely impacted by the pandemic. We’re really pleased to have made a real difference to these young people’s lives and to have welcomed them to our M&S family. 96% of those who took part in the programme have said that it has improved their future career prospects and their confidence has increased dramatically since they started with us. 

The success of Kickstart wouldn’t have been possible without our store colleagues’ support. A massive thank you to all of the teams who made our new colleagues feel so welcome, and an extra special shout out to those who took on the role of ‘buddy’ to our Kickstarters – you really have helped to transform lives. 

A warm welcome to our latest Marks and Start colleagues

Kickstart cohort 1 may have come to an end, but our support for early careers certainly hasn’t – as our popular Marks and Start programme, run in partnership with The Princes’ Trust, re-starts this week. We’ll be welcoming 126 currently unemployed 16–30-year-olds into 54 of our stores in areas struggling with youth unemployment. 

They’ll each complete a 4-week placement, after which we’ll offer all those who have successfully completed the programme a 12-week Fixed Term contract – giving them the opportunity to be part of the magic of Peak at M&S and giving us experienced hands to help deliver a remarkable Christmas for our customers! We hope stores will then be able to offer more permanent roles at the end of the 12-week contracts.

Our brilliant Marks and Start programme has been running for 17 years now and has helped support over 28,000 individuals back into work. It’s designed to give participants vital work experience to boost their CVs and help them gain the key employability skills that will help them be remarkable in the future. In addition to the 4-week placement we’ve carefully crafted for them, our new colleagues will also have their very own buddy to help guide them through their programme.

We’re looking forward to giving our new colleagues a warm welcome and I know all of you will do the same when you meet them in stores. Your support and mentorship really makes a difference as it helps these colleagues to thrive and grow their careers both inside and out of M&S - so thank you for all of your continued efforts.