12 Local People Gain Roles at New Marks and Spencer Store Through St Helens Chamber’s Sector Based Work Academy

19 Sep 2023

Business Jobs/Apprenticeships

After completing a Sector Based Work Academy, 12 local people have secured roles at Marks and Spencer’s new Liverpool ONE store.

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

During this programme DWP and St Helens Chamber collaborated to help candidates work on highly relevant skills to the roles on offer from Marks & Spencer and gain nationally recognised qualifications; alongside having access to expert CV and interview advice from qualified Careers Advisers at the Chamber.

Marks and Spencer originally wanted to recruit 8 local people to their new store from a variety of backgrounds: including different ethnic backgrounds, veterans or working parents.

Lisa Weir, Director of Training at St Helens Chamber, commented: “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.”

Once the training was complete, candidates then worked alongside experienced M&S colleagues for a 2 week work experience placement in an M&S store where they got a clear insight in to the world of retail and a chance to develop their technical, digital and customer service skills.

Marks and Spencer Store Manager, Deb, explained: “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. 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.

Now the training and placements have finished, a celebration event has been held to recognise the candidate’s achievements; with representatives from St Helens Chamber, DWP and Marks and Spencer in attendance.

Charlotte McNally, Merseyside District Recruitment Team DWP commented:  It was a pleasure to work with M&S and St Helens Chamber to provide what proved to be a life changing opportunity for many including our most socially diverse customers. It was inspiring to watch as the candidates developed their skills and confidence.


The work placements gave both Marks and Spencer, 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.

Marks and Spencer Store Manager Jo added: “For us at M&S, we’ve seen candidates confidence grow throughout the programme and placement. It’s been a real pleasure to see how they’ve come on in such a short time.

“When some of the candidates came on the first day of the training they didn’t want to speak, but now at the celebration event they were more than happy to stand up in front of the group and share their experiences. All the candidates have developed lots of transferable skills, and even for those who weren’t successful this time, having those skills and the work placement on their CV will really benefit them in upcoming interviews.”

Marks and Spencer were committed to supporting local people into work in their new Liverpool ONE store and have increased the number of vacancies they were offering from 8 to 12 as they were so impressed by the calibre of the candidates from the Sector Based Work Academy.

Lisa added: “The Chamber are really proud to have provided the training to help 12 people into work, and are looking forward to continuing this great work with a range of upcoming Sector Based Work Academies running in a number of industries.”

To find out more about Sector Based Work Academies and recruitment support, please visit https://www.sthelenschamber.com/business/recruitment-services/recruit-with-sector-based-work-academies/