Next offers 'Back to IT' scheme for career break returners

Clothing retailer Next is running a new scheme in 2020 to encourage those who have been on a career break back into work – specifically into IT roles.

The programme – dubbed ‘Back to IT’ – offers successful applicants a paid placement of six months, and there is a possibility of making the role permanent once that period ends. The first intake will begin their placements in January 2020.

Next has partnered with Women Returners, an organisation that helps find work for those who have been out of work for a period of time. However, Next said the scheme is not restricted to women – it wants to tap into the IT talents of anyone who has been away from the workforce for two years or more.

The retailer is seeking developers with C#, .NET, COBOL, and DB2 programming capability, development project managers, test analysts, application architects, support analysts, and team leaders, as well as cloud, network, systems, DevOps engineers. The roles will be based in Leicester, Doncaster and Pontefract, and pay up to £56,500.

Successful applicants will be coached by Women Returners and a mentor from within Next, and they will have opportunities to network across the organisation. Closing date for applications is 3 November.

Next’s current areas of investment in IT include expanding its credit system, Next Pay, and making enhancements to its cybersecurity function. The retailer is also moving its data to cloud-based systems, while seeking ways to improve logistics and warehouse processes.

A spokesperson for Next was unavailable for comment, but the initiative comes at a time when the retailer is getting to grips with the structural changes and new economics involved with a more digitally-influenced retail environment. CEO Simon Wolfson has offered several detailed explanations of what the shift in consumer behaviour means for his business, as previously reported by this publication.

Sales through Next stores in the six months to the end of July dropped by 5.5% to £874.3 million with profit from its shop network down by 23.5% to £56 million. By contrast, eCommerce sales increased by 12.6% to £1 billion contributing £177.1 million to the bottom line – a jump of 8.4% year on year.