Unemployment is at a 17-year high, with 8% of the UK out of work. The situation is especially bad for 16- to 24-year-olds, with 22.6% unemployed, meaning 1 million young people are out of work (Office of National Statistics, August 2012).
We're looking to support this issue as follows:
We've launched a paid apprenticeship scheme for 16- to 21-year-olds in our Customer team which will offer opportunities across our six contact centre sites.
We completed a pilot in 2012 which saw us take on 50 apprentices for 15 months across our four North East contact centres and we've committed to recruiting 250 in 2013.
The programme involves paid time to attend fortnightly training with the learning providers, and participants work towards the Contact Centre Operations Level 2 national qualification.
In 2013 we plan to launch an apprenticeship scheme in our Retail team which will offer 100 places across our retail stores.
Work experience and inspiration
We offer work experience placements in our Customer team aligned with the Government’s Work Experience programme. We currently have 100 apprentices in our business and hope to offer over 100 more placements in 2013.
We run career inspiration sessions in schools and colleges.
We're launching a 'Business Basics Coaches' scheme which involves employees volunteering their time to run mock interviews in local secondary schools. We hope to have 200 in place by the end of 2013.
Our employees can volunteer with the charity Working Knowledge to help run enterprise sessions in colleges.
Fair and transparent recruitment
We encourage open recruitment as per the Government’s Social Mobility Compact
We have committed to supporting Plotr, the new Government-supported careers portal, which is set to launch in January 2013. Plotr will provide advice and opportunities to help young people build a career.
In addition to this we have an internal scheme called Fast Track that gives our employees the chance to change jobs and learn how different bits of the business function. The programme lasts for two years and in this time employees complete four six-month placements. The programme is comparable to a graduate scheme but it’s specifically for our employees and requires them to have performed well in our business rather than hold a degree.