Co-operative doubles apprenticeship offering for young people

February 02, 2012

The Co-operative Group is set to recruit 800 new apprentices – double the number recruited last year - it announced today (2 February) in the run up to National Apprenticeship Week.

Four hundred young people were recruited to The Co-operative’s Apprenticeship Academy – the most diverse scheme of its kind in the UK - during 2011, and is on track to provide 2,000 apprenticeships for young people by 2014.

The £9 million academy offers young people transferrable skills, competitive salaries and qualifications - not just a job. It is The Co-operative’s vision that eventually all new recruits under 25 will be part of the Academy.

The Co-operative Apprenticeship Academy forms a major part of the Group’s drive to inspire young people and support their future life goals and ambitions and is a key element of The Co-operative’s ethical plan.

The 800 apprenticeships on offer this year will be based within one of The Co-operative’s businesses which range from food, pharmacy and motors to legal and financial services and farming, as well as many corporate functions such as IT and HR. This year will also see the launch of the UK’s first ever funeral industry apprenticeships.

Opportunities are available right across the UK and apprentices will work towards a nationally recognised qualification and will have the opportunity to progress onto the Group’s Management Development Programme. Apprentices will also gain a range of transferable skills and professional competences, helping them to progress up the career ladder.

Peter Marks, Group Chief Executive of The Co-operative Group, said: “Youth unemployment is spiralling with over one million 16 to 25 year olds out of work. Coupled with the unpredictable economic future, it’s no surprise that some young people feel unsupported and demotivated.

“We believe businesses have a real responsibility to open doors for young people by giving them opportunities to gain new skills, knowledge and experience so that together we can build a strong and successful future for young people and our country.

“Through our Apprenticeship Academy, we are offering young people across the UK proper jobs with qualifications and real career opportunities. With a quarter of our employees under the age of 25, eventually we want to make them all apprentices and I would encourage other big businesses to follow suit.

“The professionalism and enthusiasm shown by all of the apprentices we have recruited so far shows just how much young people have to offer. There are so many young people looking for opportunities such as this and we have been overwhelmed by the hard work and commitment our new apprentices have already shown in their roles.

“Due to the success of our apprenticeship academy in the past six months, we are doubling the number of apprenticeships we offer to young people right across our business in 2012.”

The Co-operative Apprenticeship Academy offers young people:

  • the opportunity to work towards a  nationally recognised qualification

  • the prospect of joining the Management Development Programme

  • a chance to learn about co-operation via an inter-active web-based training course. The course will cover such topics as the co-operative model for conducting business and its values and principles

  • an introduction to the Co-operative’s Social Goals programme and to learn how its campaigning work can make a difference to individuals and communities

  • the opportunity to become members of the Co-operative and enjoy the benefits of employee membership including staff dividend

For more information or to view the apprenticeships currently available, visit


Additional Information:

The Co-operative Group is the UK’s largest mutual business, owned not by private shareholders but by over six million consumers.  It is the UK’s fifth biggest food retailer, the leading convenience store operator and a major financial services provider, operating The Co-operative Bank, Britannia and The Co-operative Insurance. Among its other businesses are the number one funeral services provider and Britain’s largest farming operation. As well as having clear financial and operational objectives, the Group has also set out its social and sustainability goals in its groundbreaking Ethical Plan, which specifies almost 50 commitments in these areas.

The Group operates 4,800 retail trading outlets, employs more than 106,000 people and has an annual turnover of more than £13bn.  Further information is available at