The Co-operative to create apprenticeship academy as part of £21m campaign to inspire young people

19 July 2010

The Co-operative Group

The new Co-operative Apprenticeship Academy is a key element of The Co-operative’s multi-faceted campaign, created to help reverse the negative image and treatment of those aged 25 and under and support their future life goals and ambitions.

The Co-operative, which has interests in food, financial services, pharmacy, funerals and travel, will offer its apprentices experience across its diverse family of businesses and the opportunity to work towards a nationally recognised qualification.

As well as creating job opportunities, the eight point Inspiring Young People campaign

Launching the campaign, Group Chief Executive Peter Marks urged the UK to start considering young people as the “solution and not the problem”

“Shackled with the legacy of national debt, an increasingly inaccessible property ladder and an uncertain future shaped by climate change, it’s a challenging time to be a young person in Britain,” he said.

“Sadly, as a society, we harbour a widespread negative attitude towards young people which doesn’t encourage or inspire them. We believe it is exactly these attitudes that need to change rather than the all too common view that young people have an attitude problem.

“All too often, we see or hear stories which portray youngsters as poorly educated, work-shy and uncaring,” he said. “As someone who runs a business which employs over 120,000 people, a quarter of whom are under the age of 25, I know this just isn’t true – we must start talking up the young and see them as the solution rather than the problem.

“While our work, through these commitments, will directly benefit 250,000 young people across the UK, we have set our sights far higher. In fact our vision is to help bring about a cultural shift in the way that young people are viewed and treated in this country.”


The Co-operative will:

  • Initially create 2,000 new Co-operative apprenticeships at a cost of £9million over two years with a view to extending the scheme to all young starters. The Co-operative currently employs 30,000 staff aged under 25
  • Invest £1million to support the rapid expansion of Co-operative Trust Schools bringing the total number to 200
  • Invest a further £1.5million in Green Schools, the biggest Green Schools programme of its kind in the UK
  • Invest £2million in Truth About Youth, a national programme that will challenge and change the widespread negative perceptions of young people
  • Invest £1million in the Co-operative StreetGames Young Volunteers, a national programme that will support 3,000 young people from the most disadvantaged areas to deliver sport coaching for children in their communities
  • Engage its staff to raise £5million for a national charity that inspires young people
  • Invest £0.5million in its campaign to lower the voting age to 16 to give young people the voice they deserve
  • Invest a further £1m million in Sports Opportunities and Arts Opportunities, programmes designed to find the next Andrew Flintoff or Ronan Keating.

The Co-operative Apprenticeship Academy will offer:

  • Apprentices work experience in at least one other business area although they  will be based in one of The Co-operative’s family of businesses
  • Apprentices the opportunity to work towards a  recognised national qualification (NVQ, Duke of Edinburgh Award etc)
  • Apprentices the prospect of joining a management training scheme
  • Apprentices the 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 our values and principles
  • Apprentices an introduction to the Co-operative’s Social Goals programme and learn how its campaigning work can make a difference to individuals and communities
  • Apprentices the opportunity to  become members of the co-operative and  enjoy the benefits of membership including staff dividend

Notes to editors

The Co-operative Group stands apart from other major retailers in the UK as a business which is owned, not by a small group of shareholders, but by more than five million consumers. With core interests in food, financial services, travel, pharmacy, funerals and farms, it has an annual turnover of £14 billion, employs 123,000 staff and operates over 5,000 retail trading outlets handling more than 20 million weekly transactions.  

Following the acquisition of the Somerfield supermarket chain in March 2009, The Co-operative Food is the fifth largest food retailer. The Co-operative Financial Services is one of the largest and most diversified financial mutual businesses, operating The Co-operative Bank, The Co-operative Insurance and Britannia.

The Co-operative is the UK’s number one provider of funeral services, the third largest retail pharmacy chain, a leading travel retailer, supplying the travel needs of more than three million people annually, and is the UK’s largest farmer.

Among its other businesses are The Co-operative Motor Group, The Co-operative Electrical and The Co-operative Legal Services.

Please note that applications for the Apprenticeship Academy are not yet being taken