Skills for life and work

The UK economy is facing a growing skills, qualifications and experience gap leading to stalling productivity levels.  We believe we have a role to play in supporting future growth and prosperity and we do this by inspiring younger generations to unlock their potential.  We run a number of programmes to help them grow in confidence, understand more about the world they live in, and to equip them with the skills for success.

Boy in a Bringing Skills to life workshop in class

Our schools programme

John Lewis's flagship free education programme 'Bringing Skills to Life' is now in its fifth year and involves Partner time and the provision of curriculum resources. Through this programme we aim to equip and inspire children with the mind-sets and skills needed for innovative thought and action. The programme comprises of five key themes - Design and Make, Cook and Share, Storytelling, Technology and Innovation. The resources provide teachers and parents with easy-to-follow lesson plans and additional workshops are delivered by John Lewis Partners either in our shops or in the classroom.

School engagement is high, with some participating year-after-year. Our Christmas resources continue to be popular, providing curriculum-linked activities and lessons, as well as free-prize draws, along the theme of our Christmas advertising campaign. In addition we run an annual Innovation competition, where 9-11 year old students put their innovation skills to the test to solve real business challenges.

For further information and resources, visit the Bringing Skills to Life resource site.

Partners holding up a 'believe in children' Barnardo's sign in front of a collection and raffle prize stand


Our partnership with Barnardo's began in 2014 to complement Bringing Skills to Life. Together, we focus on skills development programmes and the empowerment of young people. Over three years, we have raised more than £1m for the charity. Our partnership has enabled numerous meaningful volunteering opportunities, drawing on and leveraging expertise.

Partners across the organisation have dedicated their time and effort towards fundraising, campaigning, sourcing gifts-in-kind and volunteering. Partners have visited schools and talked to children about Barnardo's; they have read children stories in over 72 schools, lent their visual merchandising skills to Barnardo's shops and given makeovers to children's services, such as gardening and refurbishments.

Tony Garner, a Partner at the Oxford Street branch worked as a paid volunteer through the Golden Jubilee Trust scheme at Barnardo's Bow Nursery for six months. Our Trafford branch hosted a 'Catering on a budget' workshop for Barnardo's Care Leavers who attend The Curve Manchester Leaving Care project. Emma Marchant, John Lewis's Manager of Sustainable Communities, joined Barnardo's as its 150th Anniversary Campaign Director. Full-time for nearly a year, Emma continues to keep in touch with the team and assist Barnardo's work.

The volunteering support received from John Lewis has given young carers the chance to 'be children' once more through fun activities and provided care leavers with the skills needed to live independently in a supportive environment.

John Lewis fully funded Barnardo's Early Intervention programme known as 'Five to Thrive' to help provide babies with the 'building blocks for a healthy brain'. This focuses on five key activities to help children from birth to the age of five bond with their parents: Respond, Cuddle, Relax, Play and Talk. More than 3,400 Barnardo's practitioners nationwide have been trained in this approach. Parent 'ambassadors' have also been trained to champion 'Five to Thrive' within their communities. A 12-month follow up survey of practitioners shows that the training has resulted in a significant improvement to the way they work with families.