M&S continues its commitment to supporting young people across Wales into work as it relaunches work experience programme

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.

Neil Enoch, Store Manager at M&S Culverhouse Cross, added: “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.”

Stephanie Bagworth, Senior Head of Partnerships at The Prince’s Trust, said: “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 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.