With six Skills @ Work (S@W) partnerships across Ireland, one in Cork, Donegal, Kerry, Galway, Tipperary and Dublin, Marks and Spencer (M&S) are certainly a role model company for engaging with young people across Ireland.
In Clonmel, Co. Tipperary, M&S has been partnered with a local secondary school, Clonmel Central Technical Institute (CCTI) as part of the Business in the Community Ireland’s (BITCI) S@W programme since September 2010. From the very beginning of the partnership, staff members have shared their expertise with the students and have helped open their eyes to the variety of career options available to them after school.
The S@W programme provides students with a unique insight into the world of work. Over six sessions, students are provided with the opportunity to learn about their partnering company and to consider career and further study options available to them.
Sessions in the S@W programme include site visits, interview preparation, day in the life insights, group discussion sessions with employees and CV workshops. M&S in Clonmel additionally held a session which focused on customer service skills during the student’s visit to the store, focusing on how to deal with an unhappy customer, customers wishing to return products and how to up-sell to customers.
Leonard Kelly, BITCI has seen the benefits of the partnership: “It is great to see one of our established partnerships continue to flourish. This year M&S presented an additional session relating to customer service, and it was great to see Jade Greene the store manager take an active part in it. I believe her M&S story of first coming in on work experience and rising up to become store manager could be an inspiration to many of the students present on the day.”