Marks and Spencer - Marks & Start

Work Inclusion Award, Big Tick 2013, reaccredited 2014, 2015.

Since 2004, Marks & Start has helped 7,000 disadvantaged people gain the skills and experience needed to enter employment, creating a bank of work-ready individuals for any recruitment need and building pride among employees.

Business Impacts

  • A bank of job-ready, experienced candidates for any recruitment need.
  • Marks & Start recruits add to the company’s diversity in age, ethnicity and disability, with 25% having a disability.
  • The programme helps employees to develop skills through co-ordinating placements, buddying and coaching, and creates pride in an employer that ‘really cares’.

Social Impacts

  • 7,000 individuals have been supported by Marks & Start since 2004, around 6,000 of whom completed their placement.
  • 3,150 gained employment with M&S and other employers and were still in employment after 13 weeks. Another 100 went into education or volunteering.
  • 90% of participants said the placement improved their confidence and that they were more motivated and committed towards employment.
  • The strength of the M&S brand helped the four charity partners gain additional funding in the region of £600,000.

Marks & Start at a glance

Marks & Spencer logo

I thought I would never get a job, that no one would employ me. Marks & Start has turned my life around – I don’t know where I would be if I had not had the opportunity. I love working here.

- Marks & Start participant,
Now full-time employee, Widnes store
Marks & Start is an employability programme which supports people who face barriers to getting into work.

Since 2004, it has grown to support over 1,000 people a year by providing work experience placements in M&S stores and offices.

M&S works with four partners, supporting different groups:

  • The Prince’s Trust (young people aged 16-25).

  • Remploy (people with disabilities and health conditions).

  • Business Action on Homelessness (homeless or those at risk of homelessness).

  • Gingerbread (lone parents).

The programme comprises three elements:

  • Pre-placement training (skills, confidence building and financial advice).

  • A two-week work experience placement.

  • Post-placement support (helping the participant secure a job).