What's the issue?

There are over one million 16-24 year olds not in employment, education or training today. That’s one million too many excluded from the job market; lacking the skills and confidence to get a job or facing significant barriers to work, such as homelessness or disability.

We know that youth unemployment profoundly damages their ability to live a stable and happy life. There are thousands of young people who we urgently need to help before unemployment leaves a permanent scar on their lives and communities.

What is Marks & Spencer doing to tackle youth unemployment inside its business?

Building on Marks & Start, M&S is launching a new initiative with The Prince’s Trust specifically targeting 16-24 year olds called Make Your Mark. This pre-employability programme will provide 1,440 disadvantaged young people with the opportunity to gain experience and ultimately employment.

That’s equivalent to 2% of their workforce. Plus, there is a target to get 50% of participants into work following the placements, either with M&S or another business.

What action is M&S calling for from its supply chain?

M&S has made a call to action asking its suppliers to offer opportunities to young people to get into work, either through work placements, apprenticeships or work. M&S has asked its suppliers to set themselves a target and to report against that target.  Suppliers could perhaps use the same 2% benchmark chosen by M&S.

How can this help your business?

There are many tangible business benefits to offering work placements opportunities to young people, from recruitment to employee engagement.

The primary benefit cited by M&S suppliers is increased employee engagement. Creating inspiring work experience placements for young people gives your employees the chance to develop new skills such as mentoring and supervision, and to help tackle an urgent social issue.

Engaged employees are more productive, more innovative and deliver better customer service. Involvement with work placements can also improve employees relationship with and attitude towards their employer.

From a recruitment perspective, running a work placement programme is a great way to find and encourage the next generation of talent into your workplace and address potential skills shortages.

What can I do next?

Many of you will already have great programmes in place - if you do, please tell us about them by emailing youth.unemployment@marks-and-spencer.com

However, if you feel you can do more or would like to get started, this web resource will help you find the right approach for your business no matter your size, sector or location. Please click here to find out what you can do next.

Join with M&S to tackle youth unemployment.