Marks and Spencer to provide 1,400 work placements

Mon, 01/07/2013 - 13:27 -- nick

High Street chain Marks and Spencer is to create 1,400 work placements for young people, an eight-fold increase in the number it usually offers.

Developed with the Prince's Trust charity, the placements will be open to 16-24 year olds who will receive on-the-job training and the chance to gain full-time employment with the retailer.

Although the opportunities are unpaid, the company is insistent that its motivations are pure and it is not exploiting free labour, and its offer meets some of the UnemployedNet conditions for free work.

These include voluntary attendance, a focus on significant training, the chance to get paid work after it ends, and the provision of some mentoring.

M&S has committed to providing careers coaches to help those attending through the scheme.

Writing in yesterday's The Sunday Telegraph, Marc Bolland, M&S's chief executive, said: "Youth unemployment has become one of the UK's most pressing social issues. It is at record levels, with one-in-five 16 to 24-year-olds struggling to find a job.

"Although many good employment schemes and initiatives exist, in which we at M&S also participate, we want to find a way to accelerate the solution.

"Therefore, M&S is launching a new youth employability scheme – Make Your Mark – which will see us set aside 1,400 new, one-month placements for young people in our stores, equal to 2pc of our 70,000-strong British workforce."

M&S believes that all UK businesses should earmark 2% of its staffing for youth work experience in recognition of the huge challenges they face.

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