High street retailer Marks and Spencer (M&S) has announced that it is to create 1,000 jobs at its new e-commerce distribution centre in Castle Donington.
Set to open in early 2013, the 900,000 sq ft East Midlands unit will distribute two million clothing and home products weekly and deliver them to home and M&S stores across the country.
One of the recruitment channels used to fill these new vacancies will be a new employability scheme set up as part of the retailer’s Plan A initiative, for which it was recognised last week as it scooped the Responsible Retailer of the Year accolade at the World Retail Awards.
People with disabilities and health conditions will be helped into work at the centre as the retailer looks to employ warehouse operatives, engineers, mechanics administrative staff, transport controllers and management.
Run in partnership with Remploy Employment Service, which specialises in helping the disabled find employment, the scheme follows the success of the Marks & Start scheme operating in stores and offices.
Named Marks & Start Logistics, the latest scheme will recruit and train successful candidates for work at the centre using on-site technical and skills-based training using simulated equipment, following by a two-week work placement after which a team leader and the participant will review whether to start work straight away or whether further training is required.
Tanith Dodge, HR Director at Marks & Spencer, said: “We want to support as many people with disabilities into the workplace as possible by taking our Marks & Start scheme to a new scale and a new part of the business.
“Around 10 million disabled people live in the UK and only 49 per cent are in employment compared to 78 per cent of non-disabled people. It doesn’t have to be this way.
“Our experience tells us that people who face barriers to the work place are committed, motivated and valued employees.”
Remploy works with a number of high street retailers to improve opportunities for disabled jobseekers including grocer Sainsbury’s, which yesterday reported sales growth of 5.6 per cent during the four weeks ending September 15th 2012 following its sponsorship of the Paralympic Games.
Commenting on the latest move by M&S, Minister for the Disabled Esther McVey called on others to help those who barriers to employment overcome obstacles.
She said: “Although the employment rate of disabled people has improved over the past few years, around half of all disabled people are still not in work and those that are often work far below their potential.
“That is why I’d urge other employers to follow the example of M&S and look hard at their recruitment and work practices to make sure they don’t miss out on the extensive talents of disabled people.”