Midcounties Co-operative recruits 50 apprentices to retail programme

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Apprentice Charlie Mercer, who works at the New Invention store in Wolverhampton

Apprentice Charlie Mercer, who works at the New Invention store in Wolverhampton

The Midcounties Co-operative has welcomed 50 young people onto its Retail Apprenticeship Programme giving them the chance to start and develop their career with the community retailer following on from the success of last year’s pilot programme.

Over 500 people applied to join the scheme, which will enable apprentices to gain on-the-job training at selected food stores across the Black Country, Oxfordshire, Swindon and Gloucestershire. Guided by a team of mentors, the apprentices will go onto achieve a range of nationally recognised qualifications.

The young people were welcomed on their first day by Andy Cresswell, deputy chief executive of The Midcounties Co-operative. Cresswell said: “As a member-owned business Midcounties is committed to supporting the communities it serves. This programme has enabled us to attract talented young people who are keen to develop a career in retail and we have the expertise to enable them to realise their potential.”

The retailer said the candidates were chosen after a rigorous selection process where they were assessed on their ability to demonstrate communication and customer service skills, their ability to work in a team and their personal effectiveness.

During the two-year programme, involving both on and off the job training, they will be able to gain an NVQ level 2 in retail, a retail technical certificate, key skills in numeracy, literacy and IT and a foundation level food hygiene certificate. In addition, the apprentices will have the opportunity to attend a number of internal essential business skills workshops and an Institute of Leadership and management endorsed programme.

Charlie Mercer from Willenhall, Walsall, who joined last year’s scheme and has completed one year of the two year programme said: “I was applying for college but saw an interesting apprenticeship with The Midcounties Co-operative and knew this was the opportunity I’d been waiting for.

“I wanted to do something that challenged me and would help me to build a better future for myself whilst gaining valuable qualifications that will help me to progress at Midcounties. I’d like to be a store manager one day.”

After successfully completing the training the young people can discuss how their career progresses with Midcounties.

Graham Lewis, learning and development advisor with Midcounties’ personnel services group, said: “We are keen to give young people the training and support they need for a rewarding career which will help them develop and be an asset to our business. We have a commitment to provide opportunities for all and this new apprenticeship scheme enhances and complements our existing development programmes.”