Level 4
Retail Management Apprenticeship For School Leavers



Our Management Scheme for School Leavers has evolved. We’ve invested our decades of experience in this area to form the Retail Management Apprenticeship for School Leavers. You’ll still get to experience every conceivable aspect of Store Operations. But, now, there’s an added element of accredited training.

Over 18 months, you’ll get to experience retail in real time. Food; Fashion; Home; and Store Operations. Managing £multi-million budgets. Leadership and people management skills. All this and more is part of the package. You’ll be coached and mentored throughout. And by the time you’ve finished, you’ll be ready to take on the role of a Commercial Manager and responsibility for an entire department. You'll also gain a well recognised certificate in Retail Management, equivalent to a foundation degree. On our Management Scheme for School Leavers, you’ll spend 18 months experiencing Food, Fashion, Home and Store Operations.

Applications for 2019 now closed.

Key Information

  • Location


  • Duration

    18 months' training

  • Salary

    £ 18,000 - £21,000 location dependent

Career questions?

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My greatest achievement was getting this job
Henry - Commercial Manager

What's In Store For You?

An invaluable learning opportunity; a way into retail with a high street icon; a head start on your peers. There are no end of reasons to sign up. Many of the programme’s alumni have spoken about it as a life-changing experience. What’s more, because you’re earning while you’re learning, you get a greater degree of independence too.

Many of our senior leaders joined us as school leavers. So there’s no limit to where you can go from here. Bring us your potential and we’ll help you make the most of it.

The Benefits

  • Starting salary
    (rising to £26k)
  • Holiday
  • Store discount
  • Pension

Further Discounts On:

  • Gym membership
  • Cinema tickets
  • Computers
  • Travel


Meet Amy

In September 2012, like you, Amy was a school leaver. She knew she didn’t want to go on to study at uni. But she also knew she had the drive, ambition and talent to carve out a successful career. That’s why she chose the M&S Management Scheme for School Leavers to help her make the most of her potential. Today, she’s managing her own store.

  • Be Yourself
  • Focused
  • Insightful
  • Collaborative
  • Imaginative
  • Hands-on


Meet Anna

Anna was appointed as a Store Manager when she was only 19. She studied Philosophy and her motto for life is ‘the energy of the mind is the essence of life'. Her biggest goals in life are to have a successful career and a family. She believes in being honest, upfront and to the point – so she’s never afraid to speak her mind. Currently, she manages an M&S store in Birmingham.

  • Mature
  • Self-confident
  • Professional
  • Ambitious
  • A natural leader
  • Hands-on


Meet Henry

Four years ago, Henry joined M&S as a Customer Assistant. Today, he is a Commercial Manager in an M&S store in Kent. He couldn’t have got there without the support of the School Leavers scheme and some inspirational people who were behind him all the way. Not to mention his own determination and goal-oriented approach.

  • Determined
  • Hard-working
  • Flexible
  • Passionate
  • Eager to learn
  • Hands-on


Meet James

James is meticulous about every last detail. It’s an approach he applies to everything from the way he works to how he keeps his car clean. His inspiration is his grandad – at 78, he’s the most active person he knows. If he wasn’t a Manager at M&S, James would like to open a game reserve in South Africa. His motto for life is ‘live the life you love, love the life you live.’

  • Inclusive
  • Hands-on
  • Engaging
  • Adaptable
  • Consultative
  • Passionate


Meet Scott

Scott met his girlfriend on the plane during a trip to New York. He believes in Karma; if you do good things; good things will happen to you. He likes to surround himself with people who, like him, are driven, self-confident and ambitious. If he wasn’t working at M&S he’d be an entrepreneur. But he believes he has every opportunity to apply this approach in his current role as a Commercial Manager.

  • Organised
  • Efficient
  • Thorough
  • Smart
  • Commercially aware
  • Hands-on

History Of The Scheme

It’s amazing to comprehend that our relationship with school leavers spans over 40 years. So if you’re thinking of joining this scheme, be assured you’ll be making history.

Find out more

Your Journey with M&S

  • 1

    Applications open

    Mid-September to mid-December

  • 2

    Online applications

    Ability and psychometric tests

  • 3

    Assessment centres

    End of January to end of February

  • 4


    End of February to mid-March

  • Part 1 - Months 1 to 7:

    Supported throughout by your mentor, an in-depth induction will be followed by time spent understanding the dynamics of the Customer Assistant and Section Manager roles.

  • Part 2 - Months 8 to 18:

    Management training will allow you to take responsibility and ownership for a department as you start to experience life as a Commercial Manager in a live role.

Wise words of advice

Wise words of advice

Get an insight into what life is like on the scheme. Here are some words of advice from our School Leaver alumni:

‘Be aware that you will have really good days, but also really bad ones. You might need to travel a lot to and from work. But don’t give up. If you’re determined and vocal about what you want, you’ll get it in the end.’ - Anna

‘Always be yourself. Come as you are, and know how great you want to be.’ - Amy

‘What attracted me was the space I was given to develop myself on the scheme. If you have the self-confidence, you’ll be able to make the most of the opportunities M&S has to offer.’ - Scott

‘Be confident. Hold a presence and get ready to become a young professional.’ - James

‘Don’t pretend that you know something. It’s ok to say you don’t know. Make sure that you ask questions. You’re training. This is the time to be inquisitive.’ - Anna

Insider Info

Insider Info

Discover more about what our School Leaver alumni have learned from the scheme – and what they thought about M&S before they started.

‘When I applied, I didn’t know what to expect. Now I know that you get from the scheme what you are prepared to put into it.’ – Anna

‘I went to uni for a year. But I shouldn’t have. I remember that I didn’t want to sit in a classroom anymore; I wanted to be out in the real world, doing.’ – James

‘The scheme has given me so many opportunities and I’ve learned so much. I’ve learned the value of giving inspiration to people from the managers who inspired me.’ – Amy

‘Ultimately, for me, it’s been a very positive experience. It’s been hard work but it’s also been well worth the effort. I have a plan for myself; I’m driven and I’ve learned to be resilient.’ - Henry

‘Over the last three years, the business has made loads of investments in innovation. It’s broadening its appeal and this makes it a very interesting business to work for.’ – Scott

‘I am a doer. I learn by being hands-on. That’s what attracted me to the scheme.’ – James

‘You learn who you are as a person – how you adapt your personal attributes to your role.’ – Anna

‘The M&S scheme is designed for you to achieve more. It’s an accelerated scheme that helps you go further, faster. So if you’re ambitious, it’s tailor-made for you.’ – Scott

What the future holds

What the future holds

M&S is a big, growing international retailer. So while you might enter the business on the retail side, who knows where you could end up. One thing you can be sure of is you’ll have all the support and encouragement to make your goal a reality.

‘In the short term, I’d love to become a Foodhall Store Manager. In the long term, who knows; there are so many opportunities. Right now, it’s a choice between exploring international opportunities and a move to Support Office. If I was to go with the latter, I’d love to move to a People Services role. Developing and leading people is probably what I’m most interested in; it’s what really drives me.’ – Amy

‘I can definitely see myself at M&S in the long-term. People around me have really pushed and encouraged me, telling me they would take me as high as I wanted to go. I’m leaning towards a role at Support Office, although I do love retail, so looking at working in store internationally could also work for me.’ – Anna

‘I just love being in retail. I think I’ll stay in store for now. But I wouldn’t mind exploring international opportunities in the future. Never say never!’ – James

‘I'm not thinking much further ahead than my immediate goal right now - and that's to become a Store Manager. I like the idea of applying what I know at the next level and carrying on my development this way.’ – Scott

‘I haven’t been doing what I’m doing now for that long. That said, I do have a long-term goal to become a Regional Finance and Operations Manager. But that’s probably 10 years away yet.’ - Henry