Mentoring young people

This session was on mentoring young people into work. First up we heard from Claire Maydew from Marks & Spencer (M&S), who has been seconded to Movement to Work. This is a collaboration of employers who came together after the riots in the UK in 2013 to tackle youth unemployment.

The aim is to support 100,000 unemployed young people, 50% completing placements into paid employment, apprenticeships or further study. The employers involved will offer training and work experience placements equivalent to 1% of their UK workforce.

Claire talked us through how the programme works in general then about the M&S specific “Make your mark” programme which is delivered in partnership with the Prince’s Trust. Interestingly it sounds like M&S are extending this programme to the supply chain. So far they have helped almost 3,000 young people in over 100 stores. 75% of them have got into employment as a result.

Claire told us this had massively helped with engagement in their stores and their staff had committed to helping the young people. It has saved M&S on recruitment costs, increased the diversity of their workforce in terms of age, ethnic background and disabilities. The senior leadership of M&S want to maximise the impact by linking it to their mentoring schemes. They are trialling the CIPD’s scheme, Steps Ahead Mentoring. They want to connect their employees with the young people finishing these programmes and are seeing it as a great opportunity for their HR teams as they can see what the next generation is looking for.

Movement to a Work sounds like a really good opportunity and is definitely something I’ll be looking into for our organisation…

We then heard from Mike Thompson from Barclays.


Barclays is 330 years old and the incoming Chief Executive saw that some of the values had been lost in the wake of the LIBOR scandal and wanted to reconnect with their social value. They decided to set up an apprenticeships scheme and went from knowing nothing about apprenticeships in their HR team to having now 2,000 apprenticeships. This gave them an insight into the needs that young people have, especially around getting interviews as they had no experience. They decided that 2,000 young people wasn’t enough and the CEO challenged them to reach to one million young people.

Barclays created an open source programme called Lifeskills which is open to any UK employer. It’s part of the Movement to Work programme and since it launched in 2012 they have supported 750,000. They have given their clients the opportunity to engage with it and they are seeing young people move into work with their suppliers too now.

At the heart of it is the fact it’s not rocket science. Confidence and simple basic advice are critical. Barclays created a series of adverts for Lifeskills in which young people speak to other young people about what they can learn from the programme. The ads they showed us were very effective!

“If you want to get a banker interested in anything, tell them it’s free” said Mike of the CIPD Mentoring scheme. It’s good for the young people but it’s also good for Barclays who can use it for talent spotting. It has also reconnected some of their HR team to the CIPD. Mike asked us to consider how we can help.

This was an interesting session and it was good to hear about the excellent Movement to Work programme – and anything that helps young people into employment is something I’m all for. I’ve had some experience of working with young people brought the CIPD scheme and also through my connections with the University of Liverpool’s careers service. It’s incredible how much of the stuff we take for granted in our working lives is new to young people who don’t have much (or any) experience of the world of work. As HR people, we can all help with that – and as these examples from M&S and Barclays show, our organisations will benefit too.

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