Co-op launches virtual work experience scheme to put pupils back on track following COVID

16 June 2021

  • Partnership with major companies including ITV, Microsoft and Kellogg’s to provide networking and insight for 14-17 year olds at Co-op academies

After 15 months in which students have spent much of their time studying at home, without the usual work experience opportunities, mentorships and skills workshops, the Co-op has partnered with 11 of its major suppliers across media, technology and FMCG to launch a ‘virtual work experience’ programme for students at its academies.

During the five-week programme, which starts this week, pupils will be invited to a range of online presentations from LGBT+, disability and ethnic minority networks within the Co-op; given insights on how to ‘get into’ areas including information technology, marketing and retail; but also be offered employability skills sessions, such as CV writing and applying for apprenticeships.

The scheme, which is available for over 2,000 students at Co-op academies, was developed to acknowledge that all young people need support levelling up their prospects and greater social mobility, following the pandemic. It is also hoped to tackle the long-standing issue of the academies’ young people, often from disadvantaged backgrounds, being less likely to secure valuable work experiences and mentorships due to a lack of family contacts or simply being too far out of the city.

As well as figureheads within the Co-op itself, sessions will also be led by speakers from P&G, Microsoft, Kellogg’s and others. Should the scheme be a success, the Co-op plans to grow the offer to more schools and community organisations across the UK.

The programme has been developed and will be managed and delivered by the Co-op for its Academies Trust, as well as being offering out to some schools in disadvantaged areas outside of the north west.

Steve Murrells, CEO at the Co-op said: “Young people are one of the groups that have suffered the most this year, having spent months isolated at home at a crucial point juncture in their lives. There is a huge job to be done in terms of educational recovery as we come out of the pandemic and at the Co-op, we wanted to make sure that we’re doing all we can, particularly for those in our extended Co-op family community.

“This virtual work experience programme will give these students a valuable insight into the world of work, which will help them make important decisions about life beyond school. It's brilliant to see other major companies partnering with us on this, demonstrating just how impactful collaboration and co-operation can be. We’re looking forward to seeing where we can take this, to support even more young people in the future. This is just one component of the outstanding careers provision we provide across all our academies.”

Jon Morley, Kellogg senior sales manager said: “We’re really pleased to be part of the Co-op virtual work experience programme, particularly after the challenges so many students have faced over this last year. We hope the sessions from partner companies, like Kellogg’s, give student insight and inspiration on the variety of future career options and the skills needed to do them.”

To learn more about Co-op Academies, please visit:


For more information, contact:

Tom Cooledge | PR Manager | | 07773 097 060

Elliott Lancaster | Press Officer | | 07808 609 944

About the Co-op

The Co-op is one of the world’s largest consumer co-operatives with interests across food, funerals, insurance and legal services. Owned by over 4 million UK consumers, the Co-op operates 2,600 food stores, over 800 funeral homes and provides products to over 5,100 other stores, including those run by independent co-operative societies and through its wholesale business, Nisa Retail Limited.
Employing over 63,000 people, the Co-op has an annual turnover of £11.5 billion. As well as having clear financial and operational objectives, the Co-op is a recognised leader for its social goals and community-led programmes. The Co-op exists to meet members’ needs and stand up for the things they believe in.

List of partners ITV Microsoft Keelings Kellogg’s Pilgrim’s Manhattan Link Contracting Procter & Gamble Mondelez Marsh Mitie