Work academy helps secure jobs at Liverpool M&S

A Sector Based Work Academy run by St Helens Chamber and the DWP helps people secure jobs at the new Marks & Spencer store in Liverpool. Tony McDonough reports

Marks & Spencer
Entrance to the Marks & Spencer store at Liverpool ONE


Retailer Marks & Spencer has taken on 12 people at its new store in Liverpool ONE after they attended a Sector Based Work Academy.

St Helens Chamber and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) collaborated on the academy. It was tasked with finding new staff for the M&S which is based in 100,000 sq ft of the former Debenhams building in the city centre.

M&S relocated to the site after being based at Compton House in nearby Church Street for almost a century.

Sector Based Work Academies are a DWP initiative that combines a range of short training courses which equip attendees with the exact skills the employer is looking for. 

During this programme candidates worked to develop skills relevant to the roles on offer from M&S. They gained nationally recognised qualifications alongside having access to expert CV and interview advice from qualified careers advisers at the chamber.  

M&S originally wanted to recruit eight local people to their new store from a variety of backgrounds including different ethnic backgrounds, veterans or working parents. They were so impressed with the candidate they offered jobs to 12 people.

Once the training was complete, the candidates then worked alongside experienced M&S colleagues for a two-week work experience placement in an M&S store.

They gained a clear insight into the world of retail and a chance to develop their technical, digital and customer service skills.

M&S said: ““It’s been fantastic for the candidates to have the training and then to complete their placement, we’ve seen them grow which has been amazing.


Marks & Spencer
Three of the 12 academy trainees who secured jobs at Marks & Spencer


“They’ve smashed a lot of barriers they were facing, and getting them out there and speaking to customers has really helped a number of candidates who were suffering with anxiety to grow their confidence.”

The work placements gave both M&S, and the candidates, the chance to see whether they were a good fit. It also gave them a chance to put the skills they learned in the classroom into practice.

Analysis: What next for Compton House as M&S departs?

Lisa Weir, director of training at St Helens Chamber, added: “Its fantastic to see just how many local candidates have benefitted from this Sector Based Work Academy.

“It has been a pleasure to work with DWP on setting this programme up, and of course with Marks and Spencer for offering such great vacancies.”

Click here for more information for local Sector Based Work Academies

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