A commitment by ASDA to help young people into work has seen it collaborate with The Prince’s Trust in a special three-pillared partnership that actively tackles youth unemployment and, in the space of just two years, has already improved the employability prospects of more than 500 of the UK’s most vulnerable young people.

ASDA’s delivery of The Prince’s Trust Get into Retail programme, for example, has seen it boost the skills of 384 long-term unemployed young people, 92% of which were offered work with ASDA once the programme ended. A further 72% were still with the company a year later – a retention rate that is head and shoulders above the industry average. This is, in part, attributed to the way in which The Prince’s Trust recruits for the programme and the continuous support participants receive from both The Trust and ASDA staff.

Jane Kidd at ASDA says:

Our partnership with The Trust is key to our Movement to Work commitment. It isn’t about running a youth programme for the sake of it, it’s about running a youth programme that has positive outcomes; that helps reduce youth unemployment.

“Young people that come to us via The Prince’s Trust genuinely want to change their lives. Many come at a point where everyone else has given up on them, and an intervention like Get into Retail gives them that chance to prove themselves and get a career.

“In an incredibly short space of time these young people move from having few employability skills to being very employable. They leave the programme feeling invincible and that energy is fantastic for us as an employer because it shows in their work. And because our Get into Retail programmes are run to coincide with internal recruitment drives and new store openings, we’re able to offer many of them jobs at the end.”

The whole-hearted cooperation ASDA’s staff have demonstrated towards the partnership has also sealed its success.

Jane continues:

What’s so great about this partnership is how authentic it is. Prince’s Trust staff work on the shop floor during the programmes and really go out of their way to ensure participants get what they need to succeed.

"But what’s also fantastic to see is the reactions of our store staff. They put their hearts and souls into the programme and are often overwhelmed by what the young people say about us as a business and about them personally, because they’ve helped them. It makes them feel they’re doing something worthwhile.”

ASDA doesn’t limit its support of Prince’s Trust young people to programme delivery. Nurturing new design talent is also an area which ASDA is focused on within the partnership. For the last two years, its homewares arm, George Home, has taken two young designers under its wing, which have come to them via the Enterprise programme.

This inspired initiative aims to coach, develop and mentor new designers through the entire design and production process, channel their talent into commercial, mass market ranges, and give them the insight, guidance and exposure to career opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have had.

Katie Craven, a designer supported by The Prince’s Trust and ASDA says:

I have always dreamed of being an illustrator and designer but found it difficult to forge a freelance illustration career after my degree. I approached the Prince’s Trust for help, and with their support, I have launched my own business. My experience with The Prince’s Trust and ASDA has been truly invaluable. They have given me the guidance to turn my dream into a reality and I will always be immensely grateful to them.

A 10% of sales agreement for this particular initiative has generated more than £150,000 for The Trust, which has been used to support other young people through programmes nationwide.

Sian Kerrigan, Design Manager for Decorative Accessories and Lighting at George Home says:

“It’s such a great partnership and it’s a great way of getting new and exciting things into the store. The public and our staff react very positively to it, and the enthusiasm of the young people is infectious. We’re in our third season of this partnership now and the ranges are getting stronger every time.”

The young designers’ collections are packaged as limited editions and always contain quirky pieces to help ASDA generate PR. What’s more, the young designers are profiled on ASDA’s press releases, in its catalogue and on its website, giving them invaluable commercial exposure.

Andy Clarke, CEO of ASDA, has been leading the company’s partnership with The Prince’s Trust from the beginning. He believes that helping young people unlock their career potential, particularly those who are most disadvantaged, is a responsibility businesses should take seriously. This is why he not only encourages every department in ASDA to think strategically about how they could work with The Trust, but is why, in 2014 he became The Trust’s Retail Ambassador.

As Retail Ambassador, Andy has generously provided The Trust with pro-bono business advice and hosted several events that leverage his networks to encourage other business leaders to invest in the development of the UK’s disadvantaged young people.

The impact of these events are valued at raising hundreds of thousands of pounds in future donations.

Andy says:

I am very passionate about youth employment and giving young people the chance to show what they can do. ASDA and The Prince’s Trust shares that commitment which is why I am proud to support them as an Ambassador.

“It is very important to me that our business encourages colleagues to be the best they can be, no matter how old they are. The right attitude and a strong work ethic is what’s important and we, along with The Prince’s Trust, are committed to offering opportunities to young people who demonstrate those attributes.”

This inspiring and creatively evolving partnership between the Trust and ASDA is still in its infancy, but its unequivocal success to date, and the way in which its staff continuously assess ways in which they can support young people ensures its long-term future.