M&S offers temporary jobs to help graduates

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MARKS & Spencer is offering temporary jobs to 100 graduates in what is thought to be the first such move by a British company.

Successful applicants will be taken on for 12 months and receive the same training as 250 final year students who already have permanent jobs with the organisation. The deadline for the offer expires tomorrow.

The salary for the new intake will be pounds 14,000 a year - the same as mainstream trainees. The median salary for a typical new graduate, aged 21 with a second class honours degree, is about pounds 13,000.

The temporary staff will be given no guarantee of employment after a year, but high flyers may be offered posts if there are vacancies.

A spokeswoman for the company said it was unusual for extra jobs to become available. Those about to finish the year-course would be given career counselling.

The idea came from Sir Richard Greenbury, M&S chairman, who was concerned about unemployed graduates. M&S received nearly 4,500 applications for the 250 graduate training places available this year, a measure of job scarcity.

In its biannual survey, the Association of Graduate Recruiters said that vacancies for degree holders had declined by 6.5 per cent this year, although Roly Cockman, executive secretary of the organisation, said yesterday that the situation was beginning to improve.

Apart from the gesture by M&S, Unilever was taking on more graduates and Harrods was limiting its intake of 18-year-olds to emphasise the recruitment of trainees with degrees.

Kate Tyzack, recruitment manager at M&S, said that while the new intake would get no guarantee of jobs - there have so far been 100 applications - they would have the advantage of being able to list work experience with the company on CVs.

1991 the company offered jobs to 150 graduates but was forced to postpone their employment for a year because of the recession. Subsequently, 70 of those joined the stores group with 74 fresh recruits. In both 1988 and 1989, M&S took on about 300 graduates.

M&S management see the offer of temporary jobs as mainly philanthropic, it will also allow the company to call on more trained staff should there be a strong pick-up in retail sales.