The Education Partnerships Award: A.F. Blakemore & Son

Winner of Business in the Community Education Partnerships Award 2019

A.F. Blakemore & Son: Inspiring unemployed young people into work while developing talent for its business

  • £53,615 saved in recruitment costs
  • 693 staff took part by volunteering time, experiences and insights
  • 183 previously unemployed people found work

Launched in 2017, A.F. Blakemore & Son’s (AFB) Branching Out programme has two clear goals. First, it aims to motivate young people to find work by giving them the skills they need.

Secondly, it is designed to help recruit great people for the business. In the so-called ‘cold spot’ of the West Midlands, recruiting for jobs such as LGV drivers, butchery and IT in the retail and wholesale sector has proved tough.

“A.F. Blakemore’s Branching Out programme has built upon the success of the company’s long-standing volunteering programme to provide young people with the valuable skills they need to enter the world of work – and bridges the gap between education and employment.”

Ian Diment, Group HR & Strategy Director, A.F. Blakemore & Sons

“We have spent many years working with schools but believe Branching Out will bridge the gap between education and employment,” says Ian Diment, the company’s Group HR & Strategy Director.

The family-owned company, which owns or serves more than 1,000 SPAR stores, invites staff to volunteer in sharing their knowledge to improve the employability skills of young people and spread awareness of the career opportunities AFB can provide to people in the communities in which it operates.

AF Blakemore have partnered with a special school to build skills and access a pool of talent.

So far, AFB has made an investment of almost £100,000, with 3,312 young people receiving support and 183 previously unemployed people finding work as a result.

For the business, 693 staff volunteered their time, experiences and insights, with 72% of those taking part agreeing that the programme had increased their knowledge of the tough challenges facing young people when it comes to finding work.

The scheme has helped to save the business £53,615 in recruitment costs and agency fees.

“The programme is now an integral part of how we develop skills and new learning experiences for colleagues across AFB,” Ian adds.

The information in this impact story has been supplied by A.F. Blakemore.

What the judges said…

‘Through their Branching Out Programme A.F. Blakemore & Son Ltd have clearly made the link between how they inspire young people in disadvantaged communities about future work with genuine recruitment opportunities. They are working with schools to diversify their talent pool and recruit into jobs they’ve found challenging to fill. A.F. Blakemore & Son Ltd have a fantastic programme to support Special Educational Needs young people which all business would be interested in.’

David Soanes, UK Country Head, UBS

Business in the Community is creating a skilled and inclusive workforce for today and tomorrow