John Lewis has announced it is taking on 80 apprentices in 2012 marking the creation of a long-term sustainable route for young people to secure employment with the retailer. As a key point of difference, the programme, which focuses on young people, has guaranteed that all secure employment when their training is complete.
The ambition of the programme is for John Lewis to provide a market-leading offer that creates new jobs for young people, which ultimately provide sustainable career paths and a genuine alternative to university.
The programme features two levels; the Modern Apprenticeship Scheme, for those who have left school at the age of 16, and the Advanced Apprenticeship Scheme for young people who have already completed their A-Levels. Both are one year programmes and if completed successfully, apprentices on the Modern scheme will be rewarded the equivalent of five GCSEs and those on the Advanced scheme, the equivalent of two additional A-levels. The rollout of the apprenticeship programme follows a successful pilot across five John Lewis shops in 2011.
Today's news further builds on John Lewis's existing vocational qualification offer which each year awards over 2,500 Partners (staff) at John Lewis with qualifications that will help them progress in their career. These cover areas from retail and warehousing to leadership and barista skills.
Andy Street, Managing Director, John Lewis, said: 'Although the jobs market is slowly getting better, we recognise that young people are some of the most affected by unemployment. At John Lewis, we have always employed a large number of young people, but our apprenticeships scheme really formalises this attitude.
'We see this as a primary source of recruitment for future talent and have already been blown away by how savvy the young people from our first intake are.
Laura Whyte, Personnel Director, John Lewis, commented: 'This apprenticeship programme has long been an aspiration for us. We see it as a route to give young people a genuine alternative to further education as well as begin long-term careers at John Lewis. It was important for us to develop, own and manage our own dedicated programme, one that fits with our co-ownership model, and our values as well as aligns with our long term growth strategy. We hope to extend its scope by at least 25 per cent in 2013, and offer tailored programmes in retail and IT.'
The one year curriculum will set apprentices on a career development programme to give them the skills required to progress to John Lewis's more senior management roles. Successful apprentices will be constantly challenged by working in a variety of positions and given significant responsibility early on.
All apprentices will automatically become Partners and have access to all benefits and reward programmes.
Elliot Racz, 16 years old, successfully applied for the John Lewis 2012 Apprenticeship Scheme and is currently a selling assistant in the menswear department at John Lewis Cardiff: 'I knew an apprenticeship programme at John Lewis was a once in a lifetime opportunity and in just two months I've already learnt so much, from working in the fitting rooms to helping customers buy new shoes. From the very start, I was treated like a fully-fledged member of the menswear department and given the same opportunities as all the other sales assistants. Although I enjoyed school, I really wanted to get out into the 'real world' and the programme has given me a kick start in getting a career.'
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