Trainee commercial manager at Marks & Spencer

Start Date:
Programme Type:
Apprenticeship - Higher Level (Level 4/5)
Review Date:
August 2019

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1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:


Roles initially start off basic, where you will complete 4 weeks of customer assistant attachments to understand the foundations of the advisor role. This includes serving on tills, putting stock out and helping customers ect. Upon completion you are then required to learn more of the management side to the job. You will begin learning the section management role for the first half of your training, before transitioning into your commercial attachments the following year, which is where you will finish the remainder of your training prior to being signed off as a commercial manager. Roles would include reviewing figures on sales and performance for the week and implementing strategies to improve these. Other responsibilities would involve you ensuring that the day to day operation runs smoothly, and key tasks sent from head office are being met. You will also lead team briefs and deal with absences, return to works and staff issues.

2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?


My communication, confidence and resilience have all been enhanced whilst being on the scheme from the exposures i was dealing with.

3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?


I did not enjoy the programme, and decided to leave after 12 months, along with many other school leavers that started on my intake. There was minimal guidance and support offered throughout [This section of the comment has been removed by a member of the RateMyApprenticeship Team because it did not meet our site terms and conditions]

One good thing about the training was the workshop days where fun, and you meet amazing young professionals from allover the country.

4. How well organised/structured is your programme?


I relocated 250 miles to London which is an extremely big change for a young apprentice starting their career and the store/business i was placed in had no structured plan for me or organisation at all, and i was basically just left on a department to ''get on with it''. It is also easy for managers to see you as easy resource when they need you for something, as you do not hold any specific accountability for the majority of your training. I was moved to two different stores during my training which never turned out beneficial for my development atall, and infact only happened for the stores/businesses benefit where they needed resourcing due to resignations. You will only begin your apprenticeship after the first 5 months of starting, where you will then take 8 compulsory hours of your working week to complete a total of 7 modules which each contain 2-3 workbooks, which ideally should be taken in one day at home, in a library or wherever you and your learning advisor see fit. Many apprentices found that their managers would often disregard these compulsory hours, and have them be in store instead which entirely defeats the objective of working towards your apprenticeship sign off. If you do join the scheme, then the first bit of advice i would give is to sit with your line manager and actually explain to them what the apprenticeship is, because as ridiculous as it sounds, none of the stores i worked in had a clue what it entailed or what i was supposed to be working towards, which is the main reason that i left. Extremely disappointing to see a blue chip company like marks and spencer having this practicality.

5. How much support do you receive from your employer?


I found the support was awful from the go. No one was interested in my development as a manger, i often just felt like a nuisance for not knowing things which can be really detrimental on your confidence as a person. The scheme is entirely dependent on how you structure and plan it, but i often found myself having to justify why i was planning certain things in regards to my apprenticeship, as none of the managers understood the scheme.

6. How much support do you receive from your training provider when working towards your qualifications?


The training provider was through a company called people plus, and through my experience my learning advisor was ok - friendly and approachable, and actually sat me down to explain certain things regarding my apprenticeship. However, the issue was the relationship between the training provider and Marks was non existent which meant there was so much miscommunication with sign off dates and what it actually was that me and my training provider was working towards. I also found the work and theory books so boring and tedious, and slightly pointless. It is also important to remember that you are not working towards any formal qualification. You will work towards an apprenticeship standard where you will come out with a certification in retail management level 4.

7. How well do you feel that your qualification (through your training provider) helps you to perform better in your role?


Its not a qualification, as previously mentioned. You will gain a certification, which is different to becoming qualified in something, or having a qualification. I didn't find the work i did beneficial at all, and i often found i was wasting my time filling in box after box.

8. Are there extra-curricular activities to get involved in at your work? (For example, any social activities, sports teams, or even professional networking events.)


no, not really. Although one store i went in often had charity netball events and dodge ball tournaments.

9a. Would you recommend Marks & Spencer to a friend?


9b. Why?

Unstructured, Low pay for the role, poor training, Old and Useless equipment/technology, no clear guidance or support and unprofessional managers

10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Marks & Spencer?

- Don't

- If you join the school leaver scheme, just ensure you are prepared for the points i included above, and drive your development to the max

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