photo of apprentices discussing their Co-op apprenticeship

568 words approx, 2.5 minute read.

Co-op Members are helping us create a Co-op fit for apprentices by joining in #TheCoopWay and sharing ideas about how we can make apprenticeships work better for people.

What I’ve heard gives me great confidence that there is a huge appetite for good quality, well paid apprenticeships that can accommodate apprentices with different abilities and needs. I want to thank Co-op Members who joined in #TheCoopWay and have spoken openly about their experiences and views.

I know what it feels like when you’re trying to get your first job. As someone from an ordinary background wanting to be a lawyer it was almost impossible for me. I wish there had been opportunities to do a legal apprenticeship but it wasn’t possible. Now at the Co-op there’s a whole range of opportunities available and this year in Co-op Legal Services we’ll be starting our very own trainee solicitor scheme. I wish that had been there for me.

Here’s what members told us

Almost half of our members who joined in #TheCoopWay are parents or carers of young people. We also received some great insights from young people and members with experience of apprenticeships working in business and education.

Overall members who joined in see apprenticeships as a positive way forward, offering a valuable alternative to college.

“Young people can learn a lot from apprenticeships and gain skills they may not even be able to cover in a university curriculum. It also helps to build confidence and provides them with the opportunity of exploring new capabilities they may never have thought they had.” Tolu Legunsen, Co-op Member

We also heard about the views of members who are wary of young people being taken advantage of in an apprentice role with lack of permanent contracts and low pay.

“I’m not sure about the security they offer and the pay progression they offer, in a context of insecure and low-paid jobs. I’m also concerned about how much genuine training is involved” Co-op Member, Durham

Importantly members shared their experiences of the difficulties faced by people who require additional support and offered ideas about how they may be addressed in future.

“As a parent it’s hard to find what apprenticeship places could be available to young people with special needs such as autism. Young people from special needs 6th form leaving and look for next step in life are still trying to gain life skills whilst wanting to keep moving forward with a view to getting into work” Fiona Smith, Co-op Member

Apprenticeships #TheCoopWay

Our Co-op currently 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%.

We pay the going rate for the job, instead of the standard rate of just £3.50 per hour and provide the same colleague benefits as everyone else. All apprentices have a permanent contract from day one.

Watch Jasmine explain why she chose a Co-op Apprenticeship

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. Gaining much needed insights from Co-op Members will help us tremendously on our journey to offer our apprentices the best training, education and support in their chosen field.

If you’re not yet a Co-op Member, become a member today.

button for Co-op Members to join in #TheCoopWayHazel Blears
Member Nominated Director

Read more about Co-op Members shape our Co-op;

Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. I remember government talking about parity of esteem between vocational programmes such as apprenticeships and academic programmes such as diplomas. It never happened. Young people don’t always want to “go to college” and we need a workforce that has direct experience of how a place of work works! Greatly encouraged to see the Co-op taking this seriously.

    • Thanks, Hillary. That’s very true. We really want to concentrate on making apprenticeships an easy and accessible option for people of all ages and backgrounds. We couldn’t do it without the support of our members. ^Siobhan


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