Co-operative learning on the job

SENIOR Lincolnshire Co-op colleagues swapped their business suits and briefcases for the shop floor and worked alongside the society’s food and pharmacy apprentices as part of National Apprenticeships Week 2012.

The week, organised by the National Apprentices Service (NAS), raised the profile of apprenticeships with employers, potential employees, schools and colleges.

The idea behind an apprenticeship is that participants earn while they learn and gain recognised qualifications.

Lincolnshire Co-op has 14 apprentices – eight retail apprentices in food, four in pharmacy, and two in departments dealing with vehicles.

All are in different stages of their training programmes, which vary in length from 18 months to two years. The Co-op runs these programmes alongside providers including Boston College and Nottingham Castle College.

During the week learning and development manager Sara Barrett went ‘back to the floor’ with pharmacy apprentice James Burton, 19, from North Somercotes.

James said explaining to Sara what he was doing made him realise how much he knows and kept him on the ball.

He said: “Apprenticeships are a good alternative to uni. I haven’t spent any money – I’m earning. I won’t come out of it with debt but I’ll still have the qualifications.

“When I left sixth form I knew I wanted to go down the biology, chemistry route but I hadn’t thought about pharmacy. It never even crossed my mind until I saw this scheme on an apprenticeship website. I’m really enjoying it here; every day is different.”

Lincolnshire Co-op’s head of people and performance Heather Lee said: “Apprenticeships are a valuable way of attracting talented and enthusiastic employees to work for your organisation because they enable people who want to develop their skills to earn a wage while they learn, both on the job and through training. We’ve been delighted with the success of our apprenticeships programme and the calibre of apprentices we have.”