Education & Jobs

Marks & Spencer

Marks & Spencer is one of the UK’s leading multi-channel retailers with 1,382 stores, 83,000 employees and 32 million customers worldwide. As a company, it is committed to delivering sustainable value for its stakeholders and customers.


Through its commitment to ‘Plan A’, the company seeks to ensure that it makes a positive difference across the board, whether it’s sourcing responsibly, conserving energy, reducing waste or supporting the communities it serves. As one of the UK’s leading employers, Marks & Spencer recognises that it has a responsibility to tackle the prevalent issue of unemployment of young people and excluded groups affected by long-term unemployment.

What Marks & Spencer did

Marks & Spencer strives to make a difference by leading the way on truly sustainable change. Marks & Spencer recognises as our economy globalises, jobs are becoming more mobile, competition for them grows, and skills evolve more rapidly, being unemployed and ‘excluded’ from employment is more daunting and crippling than ever.

To respond to this, Marks & Spencer has developed an employability programme to support excluded groups, and also encourage other companies to do the same. An important part of Plan A is centred on people and each year, the programme helps nearly 3,000 people across the UK, making M&S a diverse and inclusive place to work.

Two of its employability programmes, Marks & Start and Make your Mark (MYM) support disadvantaged, unemployed people from excluded groups who lack the skills and confidence to work. They are bespoke vocational training programmes designed to equip people for a career in retail with pre-placement training, work placements, and post-programme support, designed to address the specific skills shortages common to excluded groups and young people. Make your Mark focuses on those aged 16-24 years old. It is by far the biggest, most expensive, loved and well-embedded CR programme that M&S has ever run. In Northern Ireland, M&S offers approximately 180 placements each year across 18 stores.

Impacts and Outcomes

  • 180 people take part in Make your Mark each year
  • Of those, 95% complete it and 70% go into work
  • Programmes help to get young people off state benefits – saving the state £1.6m per year
  • 95% of those that completed a placement say it improved their confidence
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