Since then, over 3,000 young people have gone through the scheme, with over 70% going into temporary jobs within M&S immediately after the programme.

Marks and Start is a training and mentoring scheme that gives unemployed young people the skills, experience and confidence they need to find a job. One of the young people who was offered a role following completion of the Marks and Start programme is Shannon Griffiths.

Shannon, 21, from Bradford, can’t remember a time when she didn’t worry or feel self-conscious.

I have alopecia, which causes hair loss and made me anxious about meeting new people. I am also a carer for my dad, who suffers from regular blackouts and needs constant supervision.

She spent most of her time at home with her father, and although she wanted more from life and had competed courses at college, she felt like she was just going through the motions.

When my work coach suggested I went on the Marks and Start programme, my first response was ‘no’. I was nervous about travelling on my own, and worried about being in a group of people I didn't know. I also felt guilty about leaving Dad at home. But he said I should do something for myself and encouraged me to go for it.

Marks and Start is a programme from The Prince’s Trust, run in partnership with Marks & Spencer, that gives unemployed young people the experience and knowledge they need to find work in retail. 

I used to hold my head down and hide behind my fringe, but Marks and Start changed all that. It was different to other courses I’d been on because it was so hands-on.

Shannon gained experience in the Marks & Spencer café in Bradford during the first week of her work placement, and loved the interaction with customers and camaraderie of the team so much, she asked to stay there for the rest of the programme.

When they offered me a job at the end I was so over the moon – I had a beaming smile all day! Going back as a proper member of staff felt incredible, and I am so grateful to The Prince's Trust and Marks & Spencer for giving me that opportunity. I’ve now passed my Level 2 in Food Hygiene and have been promoted to running the bakery. I love everything about working here! I want to stay forever!

Marks and Start is a successful employability scheme for people who face barriers into employment. Since 2004 it has enabled over 13,000 people to complete placements in stores and offices across the country, with 50% gaining employment with M&S or another employer within three months.

Marks and Start takes this commitment to the next level with a commitment to support even more people by creating 1,400 places a year in a youth-focused programme. The programme comprises the following elements:

  • Recruitment: The Prince’s Trust work with local referral partners to recruit applicants via criteria mutually-developed with M&S. Applications can be made directly to The Prince’s Trust, local referral partners or through employee referrals.
  • Induction and training: M&S and The Prince’s Trust provide an initial induction prior to placement, followed by additional training modules throughout the four weeks to hone skills developed whilst working in-store, improve confidence and prepare them for any future job search.
  • On-the-job training: During the four-week programme, participants complete on-the-job training in an M&S store. Regular feedback and guidance are provided via a dedicated buddy to ensure the participant is achieving M&S standards of customer service.
  • Evaluation and post-programme support: If the participant performs well and receives a satisfactory evaluation from their manager and buddy after placement, they may go straight into a vacancy if and when one becomes available. If the young person requires additional support prior to employment, or if a job vacancy isn’t available at their store, they will be offered up to six months post-programme support with The Prince’s Trust to find an alternative outcome.