7 March, 2017

Be more with an M&S apprenticeship

Is going to university the right choice for school leavers today? Sometimes it is, if you need to gain a specific qualification for a particular job. But a degree is not the be all and end all for young people as it once was – far from it.

That’s because apprenticeships have emerged as an increasingly popular alternative. Not only do they equip young people with core skills and knowledge, the fact that they are learning in the workplace offers valuable ‘live’ experience that a university course can’t usually provide. And while graduates face being saddled with debt, apprentices are earning while they’re learning.

We at M&S have wholeheartedly embraced apprenticeships as a means to build our talent and capabilities. As Recruitment Manager, Future Talent, Helen is ideally qualified to comment: “The journey we are on to incorporate apprenticeships into key areas of our business is an exciting one. Apprenticeships are a unique opportunity to bring talent in early and develop people to take on fulfilling roles in the future.”

So if you want to be more, do more and achieve more, an M&S apprenticeships is a fantastic opportunity to develop skills for life. You’ll be doing a real job from the start, learning from experienced people around you and studying for a nationally recognised qualification – which you can complete in normal working hours.

In recent years, we have developed our apprenticeship offering on two fronts: Retail, in other words working in one of our stores, and Engineering – if you find this surprising, all will be explained! This means we are in a unique position to accommodate very different talents, interests and ambitions. 

Our Level 4 Retail Management Apprenticeship evolved from our Management Scheme for School Leavers. This one-of-a-kind scheme has run for some 40 years and we’ve harnessed all this experience to create an apprenticeship that delivers for young people. 

Over 12 to 18 months, you’ll get to experience every conceivable part of your store. Helen explains what this entails: “You’ll get to manage £multi-million budgets. You’ll learn the art of leadership and people management. And there will be plenty of coaching and mentoring throughout. At the end of the programme, you’ll be ready to take on the role of Commercial Manager, with responsibility for an entire department.”

In addition to the Level 4 qualification, we offer Level 2 Retail Apprenticeships. These are exclusively for our existing Customer Assistants who work at least 30 hours a week and want an opportunity to grow their careers. Whilst they start out at Level 2, our internal career path can see our promising colleagues climb the career ladder, to Level 3 (Section Manager) and Level 4 (Commercial Manager).  

For those that are more technically minded, they can consider a Level 3 Maintenance Engineering Apprenticeship at our Castle Donington Distribution Centre in Derbyshire. You might not think that engineering is our ‘thing’, but the 900,000 sq. ft. centre is packed with the very latest technology which is vital to distributing over 2 million M&S products every week. Apprentices develop the skills to carry out both reactive and preventative maintenance of the equipment.

“We’ve teamed up with Toyota Motor Manufacturing (UK) to offer the apprenticeship,” says Helen. “The scheme lasts 44 months, the first part spent at the Toyota Academy in Burnaston covering both practical and theoretical engineering, and the second 22 months in a practical, hands-on role at Castle Donington. You’ll also study at Burton & South Derbyshire College. At the end of the scheme you’ll be a fully-fledged, multi-skilled engineer.”

Is that all? “The feedback from both apprentices and managers on the programmes already running has been overwhelmingly positive,” Helen enthuses. “We’re now going to look at creating new programmes in other areas. It’s an exciting time for us here and very much a case of watch this space.”

You can view our apprenticeship opportunities here.

Inside M&S