By Gemma Taylor - Thousands of people have applied for supermarket Asda’s apprenticeship this year, it was announced today.
The UK’s second largest supermarket has received 4,000 applications in three months, as record numbers of GCSE students are choosing alternate education routes to college and taking up vocational training courses.
Statistics reveal a 50 per cent increase in new applications year-on-year for apprenticeships and Asda offers training for GCSE and A-Level equivalent qualifications in customer service, merchandising and fresh food.
The retailer has committed to training 16-18-year-olds as part of its Asda Skills Academy, which launched in June this year, in order to provide young people interested in working in its stores with recognised and relevant qualifications.
Asda’s announcement comes as teens across the UK receive their GCSE results today, and the grocer follows in the footsteps of other major retailers which offer educational training to candidates. Earlier this month, Morrisons announced the launch of a programme that will fund the university degrees of 1,000 students, in a move designed to recruit school leavers to senior management level.
The apprenticeship is open to all permanent Asda colleagues who have completed their first 12 weeks training programme and who work 16 hours per week. To date, the retailer has committed to offering 6,000 apprenticeships to colleagues in 2011 and up to 25,000 by the end of 2012.
One Asda worker who joined the company after completing her GCSEs last year is 17-year-old Samantha Lant, who works in the Totton store in Southampton. She explained that the cost of a university education had led her to look at alternative routes to employment.
She said: “When I finished my GCSEs last year, I decided that I wanted to start working as soon as possible.
“With college and uni being so expensive, it’s tough for young people and just because you choose not to stay on in higher education, it doesn’t mean you don’t care about your career.”
Launched by Asda CEO Andy Clarke, the scheme runs in partnership with vocational education organisation City & Guilds and successful candidates receive two GCSE and three A-Level equivalent qualifications.
Clarke believes that school-leavers will be attracted by the opportunity to ‘learn while they earn’ in the uncertain economic climate.
Clarke, who started his own career in retail at 17, said: “Young people shouldn’t be forced to choose between their desire to learn and need to earn – the Asda Skills Academy gives them the opportunity to do both.
“And as the UK retail sector continues to grow and develop, there are endless opportunities to build a career.”