One of the UK’s Big 4 supermarket retailers has joined forces with a national charity by signing a pledge to make apprenticeships better for young women.
Asda, which has 621 stores across the UK and employs over 170,000 staff, signed up the campaign that was launched by the Young Women’s Trust, which supports women aged 16-30 struggling to live on low or no pay.
According to the charity group, Asda is the only retailer to have committed to the pledge, alongside major bank Barclays and the Builders Merchant Federation, the only membership body representing merchants in the construction sector.
Research undertaken by Young Women's Trust shows that female apprentices earn 20 per cent less, receive less training and are found in a narrower range of sectors compared to their male counterparts.
In addition, young female apprentices were at a higher risk of being out of employment once they finish their apprenticeship compared to young men.
The apprenticeship programme at Asda was developed in partnership with Babcock training and since April 2013, nearly 5000 learners have completed it, while 2064 are currently studying it. The retailer's apprenticeships programme are offered in a variety of areas including administration, home shopping, retail management, IT and supply.
Young Women's Trust chief executive Dr Carole Easton said it was "fantastic" to see one of the UK's biggest retailers sign her organisation's pledge.
"Asda already has a formidable reputation as an inclusive employer with an excellent apprenticeship programme and it is encouraging to see that they are committed to doing so much more," she said.
"We hope Asda’s support will encourage more retailers to come forward and improve apprenticeships for young women.”
Nick Green, Asda's senior director for talent, said creating a diverse workforce was good for business.
"We believe it is important to encourage the top talent into our organisation and apprenticeships are just one means of doing so," he said.