M&S makes mark on youth unemployment with 1,400 new placements

Marks & Spencer have announced new youth employability scheme Make Your Mark, which will see the retailer join forces with The Prince’s Trust, to create over 1,400 work experience placements for 16-25 year olds.

We hope to make a real and lasting impact on the lives of many young people. We believe that by not investing in our future workforce now, we will only be facing a talent deficit tomorrow.

- Tanith Dodge,
HR Director, Marks & Spencer
With youth unemployment in the UK recently reaching record levels, Make Your Mark is a training and job placement programme designed to address the skills and experience gap that prevents young people from finding work.  Currently one in five 16-24 year olds in the labour force are struggling to find a job and yet the retail sector has the highest vacancy rate for all industries with 79,000 vacancies in the last quarter.

Make Your Mark is inspired by Marks & Start, M&S’ successful employability scheme for people who face barriers to employment. The new scheme takes this to the next level, making a commitment to support even more young people.

Marc Bolland, Chief Executive at Marks & Spencer, 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.”

The programme kicks off with its first intake today, July 1, with further sessions in September and February.  Lasting four weeks, the programme will include specially tailored training modules aimed at raising participants’ knowledge of the retail industry,and developing workplace and life skills such as CV writing, networking and confidence building. There is also dedicated support offered, through a workplace buddy and career coach who will inspire, champion and provide on-the-ground assistance during the placement.

Marks & Spencer has also partnered with Business in the Community to provide a set of online guidance for suppliers looking to understand what they can do to address youth unemployment.