Last month, we celebrated the graduation of 24 apprentices – the first in the country to achieve Level 2 and Level 3 Retail Apprenticeships since Retail Standards were introduced in 2017. This month sees the start of our biggest intake of Food Store apprentices yet – a great opportunity for our colleagues and communities.

With many misconceptions about apprenticeship programmes and colleagues worrying that they’ll take up too much of their time, we caught up with two colleagues who’ve experienced a Co-op Retail Apprenticeship and they shared their story:

James Taylor 2James Taylor from our Blythe Bridge store is currently on the Level 3 Retail Apprenticeship programme and said:



When I started the programme I was a Team Manager. It’s given me a completely different set of skills and with the eight hours allocated for study I can still do the day job. It’s started to open-up doors for me across the business, especially in the Support Centre with opportunities to ask questions and seek support.

“The most challenging part for me has been the prep for my ‘final presentation’, but I knew the support was there if I needed it. We’re a real community of apprentices and we share our experiences on social media. I’ve learned that it’s really down to you… it’s all about self-learning and taking the plunge. It’s really made me look inward at myself and how I do things which has really helped me as I’m now managing the store”.

Barbara Hopps from our Whitby store has just completed her Level 3 Retail Apprenticeship and told us:

I was part of the initial batch of apprentices, so you could say I’ve helped road test the programme. To be honest, because I’d never done anything like this for years it was a bit daunting at first. But there’s professional support along the way which really helped put me at ease.

“You really don’t need to be scared of it, you just need to be on the ball and committed as there’s lots of studying involved but you can shout-up if you need help. It was great how tight we became as a group of apprentices – we we’re there for each other. Believe me, you’re not alone and there’s always someone thinking or feeling like you who can help out. I’ve made friends and lasting relationships through my apprenticeship”.

If you think an apprenticeship is a step in the right direction for you, check out our Apprenticeship pages here.

Applications are currently open for our Food Level 3 Retail Apprenticeship programme (aimed at Team Leaders and Team Managers) and we’re opening applications for the Level 2 Retail Apprenticeship (aimed at CTMs and external audiences) on 30 July – keep an eye out for more information coming soon.

Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. I think it would be interesting to hear what you actually have to do in the apprenticeship course from beginning to end. i.e. is it a number of different modules? if so, how many? do they do tests or coursework or a bit of both?

    • Hi, here’s a bit more details about the Level 3 Apprenticeship programme. It covers a wealth of commercial skills and knowledge, along with personal development and skills in leadership and management. Topics include: Self development, relationship management, leading and managing others, finance, project management. It’s 15-18 months of learning, covering 10 core modules. For Level 3 the learning takes place at ‘locally’ run face-to-face events, in-store with coaches visiting the apprentice and online. It’s a mixed assessment approach. There’s an online test and project presentation which also form part of the overall assessment.

      A laptop/tablet is provided to help you complete learning and assessments. Colleagues must be on a minimum of a 30 hour contract or happy to uplift their hours. Built in ‘off-the-job’ learning time covering 20% of contracted working hours (6 hours for a 30 hour contract/ 8 hours for a 40 hour contact). All learning and travel costs are covered.

      For the Level 2 programme, topics include: Stock management, customer service, merchandising, customer service, merchandising, marketing, retail legislation, business finance and commercial awareness, health and safety. This 12-15 months learning covering over 14 subjects.

      There’s a mixed assessment approach and there’s built in ‘off-the-job’ learning time. The learning takes place in-store with an external coach visiting the apprentice to provide the training. At the end of the programme there is an online test, an observation in-store and a short discussion about the modules that the apprentice has learnt.iPads are provided to help complete learning and assessments. Learning and travel costs are covered by Co-op and Learn Direct Apprenticeships (LDA).

      Hope this helps.

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