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For people of a certain age, apprenticeships conjure up a simpler world where someone left school, secured a job with an employer and then set about learning a trade before embarking on a 50-year-long career. Today apprenticeships are back in vogue, thanks in no short measure to the Co-op’s trail blazing, but they are very different than they were half a century ago.

Apprenticeships for all ages

Apprenticeships are no longer “jobs for life,” as colleagues expect to re-train once, or maybe several times, during their working life. That means that whilst apprenticeships still offer young people a real alternative to university, they are now relevant and available to workers of all ages. Indeed, Co-op Funeralcare recently employed a 67 year old, who wanted to change career direction, as an apprentice.

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As the Co-op’s Board champion for apprenticeships, I am determined to make sure that we continue to be at the forefront of developing the highest quality apprenticeship programme for everyone who wants not just to have a job with the Co-op, but to embark on a fulfilling, challenging and well rewarding career.

Today, apprentices no longer have to join at the ground floor and complete a rigid one-size-fits-all training programme. Now, apprenticeships are available at various levels in order to fulfil the needs of the individual, from school leavers to graduates, and post-graduate options for those seeking to move into more senior positions. Indeed, we want our apprentices to go on to be our future Co-op leaders and we aspire to seeing our very best talent emerging at the very top of our business.

Watch Jasmine explain why she chose a Co-op apprenticeship

Apprenticeships #TheCoopWay

Our Co-op offers one of the best apprenticeship schemes in the UK, we were recognised as a Top 100 Apprenticeship Employer by the National Apprenticeship Service and we currently retain 80% of our Apprentices, that’s compared to the national average of 61%.

Our apprenticeship programme has also been extended to include colleagues who already work in the business, so they too can gain new skills and knowledge in order to progress their careers.

Another big difference is that we pay the going rate for the job, whether it’s in our food, funerals, insurance or legal business or the service centre. This is instead of the standard rate of just £3.50 per hour. Our apprentices also receive the same colleague benefits as everyone else and have a permanent contract from day one.

Since we launched apprenticeships in 2011, nearly 4,000 individuals have been through the programme and we have set ourselves ambitious targets for this year too. We believe that by offering our apprentices the best training, education and support in their chosen field they can make a real contribution to our Co-op and support their colleagues on the ground.

Hazel Blears
Member Nominated Co-op Board Member

Read more about apprenticeships at our Co-op;
Apprenticeships at Co-op don’t have to be Plan B
Co-op Funeralcare leads the way with Apprenticeship Programme

Join the conversation! 3 Comments

  1. […] To create the Co-op we want it makes sense to encourage and nurture co-operative skills and ways of thinking. We do this through our work with our Co-op Academy schools and through our Apprenticeship programme. […]


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