Since we relaunched our apprenticeships in 2011, we’ve welcomed more than 4,500 colleagues on to our programmes. We’ve seen some incredible success stories and we’re really proud to be nationally recognised as a Top 100 Apprenticeship Employer by Rate My Apprenticeship.

We’re constantly looking to offer more to our colleagues. With apprenticeship programmes ranging from Level 2 to degree level, there’s something for everyone.

Our priority is to create exciting new career development opportunities in a more diverse, inclusive working environment. Apprenticeships encourage different ways of thinking and working which help our business thrive. We’re teaching the skills our Co-op needs for today and the future, creating a pipeline of colleagues across every level of the business. I’d like to share with you Sally and Paula’s apprenticeship stories.

Lloyd Thomas, Apprenticeships Partner

Sally’s story

Sally works in our Food Retail Support Centre. She’s been driving her own development in retail for 20 years and is four months into our Degree Apprenticeship, in partnership with Anglia Ruskin University. Getting a degree is something she’s always wanted to do. She’d set out to do it when she was younger, but wasn’t able to complete her studies because of personal circumstances.

On her first day at Co-op she heard about the opportunity to obtain a full BA (Hons.) Business Management degree through an apprenticeship. She was accepted onto the programme last year where she’s been challenged and stretched in her thinking through an experience she never thought she’d have.

Sally’s now working with colleagues in different roles within Retail and really seeing the benefit of the exposure she’s getting. And with three of her four kids also at university, joining the programme has meant spending even more time with her family, with everyone supporting each other in their own studies. They even spent Christmas Day revising together!

Paula’s story

From protecting our borders as a Home Office Immigration Officer, through to arranging funerals at Co-op, Paula’s supported communities all her working life.

When her husband’s job relocated to Leeds she decided to end her 21 year career with the Home Office. After seeing an advert for a Funeral Arranger she knew it was the role for her: supporting those who need it most, whilst still using the skills developed during her previous career.

We provided Paula with an opportunity to complete a Level 2 Funeral Operations and Services apprenticeship. It’s helped her gain the skills, knowledge and behaviours to transition into her new career. This is a fantastic story which shows how important apprenticeships are to us and the value they can provide to colleagues at any stage of their life and career.

But Paula’s not just any apprentice, she’s Funeralcare’s 2,500th since the launch in 2013.

Have you been inspired?

If you’re a colleague interested in an apprenticeship, speak to your line manager. If you’re a line manager and feel you could benefit from an apprentice joining your team, contact your People Lead. If you have any queries, get in touch with

Join the conversation! 5 Comments

  1. Hi LLoyd, I have some questions about apprenticeships in general, would it be OK to email you?

  2. Don’t forget one of our store managers Rachel Lee won the retail week ‘ Apprentice of the Year’ award in 2018.

  3. Sadly many businesses are using apprenticeships as a tool to recruit people on lower wages. Warehousing apprenticeships. It makes a mockery about sectors such as plumbing and electrical engineering where apprenticeships are actually valued. I would like to get into an industry where apprenticeships are the normal route to entry, but they do only pay the normal apprenticeship wage, so I can’t afford to get into it. The apprenticeship wage should be increased to at least the minimum wage.

    • Hi Steve, at Co-op we have a very broad range of Apprenticeships in both occupation and level. These vary from Funeral arranger to Chartered Manager degree and even Actuarial programmes . We are proud that we pay the rate for the role and all our Apprenticeships are permanent. I am more than happy to have a conversation if that would be useful.

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