Why I Chose a School Leaver Programme in Retail

Tommy Loft, from the Pret A Manger School Leaver Programme, told us his reasons for choosing his route after school.

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Why did you decide to undertake a School Leaver Programme?

It seemed like a great opportunity – I liked the fact that you are treated as a normal Team Member (same pay as everyone not a minimum Apprenticeship rate).  You gain a qualification at the end while also working and earning money.  You are also guaranteed a position at the end unlike some Apprenticeships.

What made you choose to study a School Leaver Programme over university, an apprenticeship or simply joining a retail store and working your way up?

I didn’t want to go to university or college straight away as I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do.  Doing a School Leaver Programme meant I’d get a qualification, but be supported in my first step into the world of work.                                                                                                   

Do you receive much support when it comes to choosing your path?

We get lots of support – from the School Leaver team in the office to the Manager and Team Leader in my shop.

What particularly attracted you to this School Leaver Programme? Did you have a previous admiration of the company or like the look of certain modules for example?

I had been a customer at Pret and liked the brand and I also wanted to work in Central London.

Do you think School Leaver Programmes are specifically helpful in the retail sector? Why?

I’m not sure about other programmes, but this one certainly is.  It’s a great way of starting work and encouraging young people to take up work in the retail sector.

Are you undertaking any professional qualifications as part of your School Leaver Programme? Did this affect your decision to do the course?

Yes, the course is an Advanced Level 3 Apprenticeship as well as a School Leaver Programme so yes this did affect my decision as these qualifications will definitely benefit me in the future.

What are the benefits, in your opinion, of a School Leaver Programme over any other entry route into retail? How did you come to this conclusion before entering your course?

I wanted to do a School Leaver Programme as you are supported when you start work rather than having to just jump in at the deep end.  I also liked the fact all students started the programme at the same time so went through the journey together.  This appealed to me when I applied.

What is the most challenging element of undertaking a School Leaver Programme in retail? And the most enjoyable? Has this surprised you?

For me the most challenging thing has been working and travelling into central London. At Pret you learn to work hard, be at work early, achieve high standards but also have fun.  This has all got me used to the world of work but has also pushed me to be the best I can.  I’ve become more sociable and the programme has brought me out of my shell.

What career do you hope your School Leaver Programme will path the way into? Did you know this when you applied, or has your ambition been influenced further during the course of your programme? Where do you see yourself a year on from completing the programme?

I have developed my confidence and now have more responsibility and I’m really happy with this. In the long term I hope to carry on working my way up Pret’s career ladder.  I didn’t know what my aspiration was to start with I just knew I wanted to work somewhere that I could develop if I wanted to.

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