The pandemic has had a huge effect on all of us with regards our careers. More people are now working remotely, others have sadly lost their jobs because of the economic impact. Our young people inparticular have been hardest hit. Those trying to get their foot on the employment ladder, with fewer roles out there.

The majority of young people want more and better quality work experience opportunities and are worried that in a post-Covid-19 labour market they will be competing for fewer job opportunities with people with more years experience. 

A Youth Employment survey, carried out at the end of last year, sought to understand the impact Covid-19 is having on young people’s employment and prospects and to find solutions to create a better future for this generation.

  • 20% of young people say that the main barrier to finding work in  the career they want is the access to work experience. 
  • 32% go further to say that work experience opportunities is the most useful support they could receive right now.

M&S stores across Wales are now taking applications for the next cohort of its work placement Kickstart programme to enable young people, aged 16-24, to gain valuable experience to help them onto the career ladder.

The programme, run in partnership with The Prince’s Trust – M&S’s long-standing employability and Sparks charity partner, saw over 1,000 applicants come forward across the UK for its April intake, with 171 placements awarded.

The second Kickstart cohort will see 189 placements offered across 72 M&S stores – 9 M&S Academy stores with 63 additional stores welcoming applicants for this second cohort. Of the 189 placements available, six will be delivered across M&S Cardiff, M&S Swansea and M&S Newport Retail Park, from July.

The Kickstart colleagues will join M&S Culverhouse Cross as Trainee Customer Assistants for the six-month placements rotating across Foodhalls, backstage operations, hospitality and Clothing & Home departments. As well as gaining retail experience, the programme will also develop their communication and digital skills and confidence in the workplace – equipping them with key tools to support their future career journey.  

Neil Enoch is Store Manager at M&S Culverhouse Cross, he told us…..

“We’ve already seen, through the colleagues joining us in April as part of the programme, the positive impact this experience can have. We’re looking forward to welcoming more young people to our team in July, to help them gain valuable experience to further build life skills and support them on their career journey.”

M&S Colleagues

Stephanie Bagworth is Senior Head of Partnerships at The Prince’s Trust, she told us…..

“By working with partners like Marks & Spencer at this critical time, we can support thousands of young people to gain the confidence and skills needed to excel in their new roles, plan their progression and vitally, ensure that their potential isn’t lost to long-term joblessness. 

“Marks & Spencer chose to work with us on Kickstart as it was a natural continuation of our long-standing partnership, but also because they understand and value our expertise when it comes to youth employability. We enable employers to make the most of the scheme – helping them to build a diverse and talented workforce, while simultaneously have a positive impact on young lives. Already 171 young people across the UK have secured a placement with Marks & Spencer and are currently gaining essential work experience that will allow them to get back on track in these difficult times.”

The SOUTH WALES LIFE team have history with The Prince’s Trust and have seen so many young people change, and turn their life around, thanks to the support they have given.

The Trust are open to young people aged 11 to 30 from all over the UK – no matter if they have been facing some serious issues such as homelessness or if they’ve been in trouble with the law. If they’re willing to aim high – they are there.

If you look at it in pure financial terms, they have returned £1.4 billion in value to society through help for young people over the last 10 years alone.

HRH Prince Charles who started the Trust in 1976

To find out more about the work of The Prince’s Trust, go HERE.

The Kickstart colleagues will join M&S stores as Trainee Customer Assistants for the six-month placements rotating across Foodhalls, backstage operations, hospitality and Clothing & Home departments. As well as gaining retail experience, the programme will also develop their communication and digital skills and confidence in the workplace – equipping them with key tools to support their future career journey.  

M&S has a long-standing history of providing employability opportunities through its Marks & Start scheme. Since 2004, together with partners including The Prince’s Trust, M&S has supported over 9,000 young people, to find an accessible route into work through the programme. Additionally, M&S offers a range of early careers opportunities with roles across its business – including apprenticeships, school leaver programme and its graduate scheme.

Following the Kickstart placements, M&S aims to support colleagues to apply for permanent opportunities where available across its stores. All Kickstart colleagues will be paid in line with current in-store pay levels. 

Applications for the July cohort are now open at Jobcentre Plus locations across the UK.

Following the Kickstart placements, M&S aims to support colleagues to apply for permanent opportunities where available across its stores. All Kickstart colleagues will be paid in line with current in-store pay levels. 

To see a list of every Jobcentre Plus location in the UK, just go HERE.

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