Department store chain John Lewis has today guaranteed interviews or assessment centre sessions to all successful participants of a national pre-employment programme.
The Retail Works course run by Skillsmart Retail, an industry skills council, provides over 30 hours of training in a broad variety of retail skills.
Along with offering assessment to all graduates of the course, vacancies permitting, John Lewis has also ring-fenced 400 assessment places at its new Stratford store, opening in September, to participants of Retail Works.
Retail managed to create 3,400 extra jobs year-on-year for the first three months of 2011, despite the national unemployment figure hovering around the eight per cent mark during this period.
Anne Seaman, CEO of Skillsmart Retail, said: “It can be very frustrating for people trying to get a job in retail if they have no previous experience, because recruiters often disregard them and it becomes a catch-22 situation.
“Retail Works is a fantastic route into retail. It demonstrates to retailers that a person has the knowledge base and passion to work in retail and gives the individual confidence in interviews and at work.”
Since the programme began in January 2009, it has trained more than 20,000 people and a survey last year showed that 53 per cent of participants had found work thanks to the course.
John Lewis hopes to create 2,200 new jobs in the UK this year, with the new Stratford store near the Olympics site being integral to this plan.
Jane Beine, Head of Partner Development at John Lewis, added: “Our Partners are at the centre of our organisation. They are hugely important to the business and their passion for retail is essential.
“We are delighted to be able to use the Skillsmart Retail Works programme to help us recruit for our new branch in Stratford. Helping people back into work and onto a career path in retail with John Lewis is very exciting and forms part of the personnel divisional strategy.”