Leading retailer & the UK’s largest private sector employer Tesco has today unveiled plans to create 20,000 net new jobs over the next two years.
The new roles will be created through a combination of store openings and an increase in the number of shop-floor staff members per store, in an attempt to try and enhance the supermarket giant’s customer service levels.
It has been a difficult start to 2012 for Tesco, with recent weeks seeing the group lose market share to its main competitors in the grocery sector, the announcement of poor Christmas trading, and controversy over its involvement with the government’s workfare scheme.
Along with the new permanent positions revealed this morning by Tesco’s UK CEO of Richard Brasher, the group also confirmed that it is expanding its apprenticeship scheme for young people to over 10,000 participants.
“In unprecedented economic conditions like these, major businesses have a big responsibility to step forward, invest and create jobs,” Brasher said.
“At the core of this investment is our determination to deliver the best shopping experience for our customers, bar none.
“We will invest in more staff on the sales floor at busy times, greater expertise and help in the crucial areas of fresh food, and enhanced quality and service across our stores at all times.”
Disappointing Christmas trading figures for the retailer, which showed a 2.3 per cent drop in like-for-like sales, were partly blamed on a drop in services levels across its store portfolio and this injection of staff members will attempt to improve this part of its offer.
Tesco’s plans have received warm backing from the government, with Prime Minister David Cameron describing today’s announcement as “fantastic news” which represents a “massive confidence boost for the UK economy.”
Good news has been hard to come by of late for the UK’s largest retailer, with sector figures released last week revealing that its share of the grocery market has fallen below 30 per cent and was the at its lowest for seven years last month.
A controversial job advert posted by JobCentre Plus for nightshift work at one of its supermarkets, which seemed to offer no direct wage from the business, led critics to berate the government-led workfare scheme, of which Tesco is a part, which tries to help unemployed young people find work experience.
While many major employers had signed up to scheme, Tesco seemed to take the brunt of the abuse from those calling for an end to the initiative, leading to the supermarket chain to alter the way it worked with the project.
Over one million 16 to 24 year olds in the UK are currently unemployed but Tesco points out that it around a quarter of its workforce, or 70,000 individual workers, are under the age of 25.
Brasher added: “With youth unemployment at record levels, we’re determined to target many of our new jobs at young people currently out of work - so that in this difficult jobs market those who need help the most will get it.
“Our investment is a win-win for customers, unemployed young people and the UK economy as a whole.”