Local young people celebrate completing Prince's Trust employability scheme

Luke Pollard with the Marks and Start team
Luke Pollard with the Marks and Start team -Credit:pr supplied

Local young people have celebrated completing an employability scheme that's been held in partnership with The Prince's Trust. Colleagues and representatives from The Prince’s Trust gathered at a recent event to celebrate the latest successful Marks & Start participants.

Marks & Start is an employability scheme run in partnership with The Prince’s Trust designed to help create a clear, accessible route into work – in retail or elsewhere – for young people who are at a disadvantage in their job hunt. Over the past four weeks, participants have gained valuable retail experience across eight local M&S stores across the South West, including Plymouth, Dartmouth, Torbay and Exeter.

Each person has been paired with a buddy and received on-the-job training while working across a range of departments in-store. They have also taken part in a series of employability sessions run by The Prince’s Trust, providing guidance on CV writing and applying for jobs.

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Last week, 14 young locals were joined by colleagues, family and friends and Luke Pollard, the MP for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport, to celebrate successfully completing the scheme and being offered a 12-week contract working with M&S. On completion of the contract, participants may be offered a permanent role with the retailer.

Luke Pollard MP said: “Every young person should have the opportunity to start their career well. That’s why The Prince’s Trust and Marks and Spencer should be commended on this initiative.

"Seeing how much working at M&S meant to these young people, and M&S staff, shows me the hugely positive impact it has had. Building confidence, breaking down barriers and getting people ready for the world of work will pay dividends for these young people for the rest of their working life. Let’s have more big companies following M&S’ lead and getting more young people work ready.”

Launched in 2004, Marks & Start has supported more than 10,000 young people across the UK and M&S is The Prince’s Trust's largest private sector employability partner. In the past five years, over 220 young people from across the South West have been supported through the scheme.

Plymouth local, Omer is one of those who will start his new contract next week. As well as helping Omer develop retail experience, M&S also supported him over the last four weeks by ensuring his training fitted around his existing English lessons to further develop his skillset.

Speaking about his experience on Marks & Start, Omer, said: “Over the last four weeks Marks & Start has really helped me improve my confidence and taught me new customer service skills that I’m excited to develop even further; I am so grateful to Marks & Spencer for all the opportunities it has given me. For anyone looking to start a new career or build their skillset, I’d say be patient and don’t be too hard on yourself, this programme has shown me some things take time to learn and that is OK!”

Hannah Torocisk, Academy Team Manager at M&S, said: “It’s fantastic to see another group of young people complete the Marks & Start scheme and to be able to offer so many of them contracts with M&S. Everyone on the scheme worked incredibly hard, impressing colleagues – and customers – with their determination and work ethic.

"It’s such a rewarding scheme to be involved in for myself and store teams as you notice such a difference in every young person from when we first meet them at the taster day to listening to their speeches at the celebration event. Whether they decide a career in retail is for them or they’re inspired to try something new, it’s brilliant to see the difference it can make to their lives and we’re thrilled to have 14 new members of the M&S family here in the South West.”

Hollie McDerra, Youth Development Lead for South West at The Prince’s Trust, added: “Across the UK, many young people lack confidence and are struggling to develop the skills they need to move into work, education or training. Therefore, it’s so important that we work with partners, such as Marks and Spencer, to help young people develop the skills and experience they need to boost their self-belief and enter the world of work. It’s been fantastic to celebrate the hard work of every person on the scheme and I can’t wait to see what they achieve next.”

To learn more about the Marks & Start programme, delivered by M&S and The Prince’s Trust, visit: https://jobs.marksandspencer.com/marks-start.