> Macmillan Academy, Middlesbrough

Macmillan Academy, Middlesbrough

About the activity

The links between Macmillan Academy and Marks & Spencer Middlesbrough have gone from strength to strength from the initial introduction of the Enterprise Adviser Programme.

It is so important for young people to gain valuable employability skills as the competition for employment is so fierce in today’s world of work. The support which M&S can offer students on the preparation for a future career, what to expect during the recruitment process, feedback, careers advice and guidance is therefore crucial in order to best set up these students for success.

One of the first activities which Macmillan and M&S have delivered has been student attendance at a Graduate Assessment Centre. Students spent a day in the Middlesbrough store in mock graduate recruitment, being assessed on a variety of individual and team-based exercises. This included an interview, where the students needed to demonstrate how they have led a team, sought personal feedback and overcome challenges. It also included analysis and presentation exercise which required the students to process qualitative and quantitative information before presenting it back to an assessor, and a team exercise which looked at their ability to work through a scenario in a group. The day is a challenging one and aims to develop and assess students’ problem solving, communication, teamwork, motivation, analysis and time management skills.

For students who seek other opportunities, M&S offered some work experience to Year 12 Hospitality students. As all these students had successfully passed their Level 2 Food Hygiene certificate, they were able to gain valuable insight into two areas of the store’s hospitality areas in the cafe and the in-store bakery. Again this helped the students to develop their ‘soft skills’ which many employers look for when recruiting their employees.

Kirstie has visited the Academy on several occasions to give talks to the students who are interested in a career in retail. For those students who do not want a career in retail, Kirstie is able to share with them the sort of graduate recruitment tools which employers use and to provide an insight into the skills all the students need to develop before they embark on their future careers.

Next steps

M&S and Macmillan will work closely together in the next academic year. Several other managers who have led varied careers in the business are going into the schools to talk about their background and experiences.

M&S will continue to support students who aspire to continue their studies at university by offering more Assessment Centre days. Feedback from the students has been that these were particularly useful, and provided an opportunity which an academic environment does not.

Macmillan are planning to do a session with some of the younger students called a ‘secret employer’ where M&S will sit in a lesson to observe the students and then provide feedback to the students on the behaviors and contribution witnessed in the lesson and who would make a great employee and who needs more development.