The Co-operative unveils groundbreaking apprenticeship academy

09 June 2011

The Co-operative Group

The £9 million academy will offer 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 £30million drive to inspire young people and support their future life goals and ambitions and is a key element of The Co-operative’s revolutionary new ethical plan.

The apprentices will be based within one of The Co-operative’s family of 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 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.

Launching The Co-operative’s Apprenticeship Academy, Group Chief Executive Peter Marks, said: “With youth unemployment hitting the highest rate in nearly 20 years and almost one million 16 to 25 year olds out of work, it’s a really tough time to be a young person in Britain.

“We believe businesses have a real responsibility to help motivate and inspire young people by giving them new opportunities to gain the skills, knowledge and experiences to be pioneers for their generation.

“Back in the 1960’s, at the age of 17, I got my first job at my local co-op store and today, 43 years later, I am running what has now become the largest consumer-owned Co-operative in the world.

“Through our new 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.”

John Hayes MP, Minister of State for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning, said: “I warmly congratulate The Co-operative Group for making this investment in the skills, future prospects and professional development of its people. 

“Every apprenticeship is a real job, designed and delivered in partnership with employers. That is why the apprenticeships programme is the core of a strengthened system of education, training and employment support to help young people get work and build successful careers. Funding is in place to support some 360,000 apprenticeships this year alone – and by the end of this Parliament, my aim is to deliver the greatest number of apprenticeships in this country's history.”

Sue Price, Regional Director for the National Apprenticeship Service in the North West says: “The National Apprenticeship Service is thrilled to be working in partnership with The Co-operative Group and to support the launch of The Apprenticeship Academy.  This is a fantastic example of a high profile UK business taking advantage of the diverse range and higher level opportunities that Apprenticeships offer their workforce.

“Apprenticeships provide real, measurable business benefits for employers, they bring productive, enthusiastic and loyal people into your organisation and demonstrate your commitment to investing in your people to customers and suppliers.”

The Co-operative Apprenticeship Academy will offer apprentices:

  • the opportunity to work towards a  nationally recognised qualification
  • the prospect of joining the Management Development Programme
  • 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 its values and principles
  • an introduction to the Co-operative’s Social Goals programme and 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 membership including staff dividend

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

Notes to Editors:

For more information contact:   

Lloyd Thomas
Group Apprenticeship Manager
Tel - 0161 827 6246