Today sees the start of National Apprenticeship Week which aims to highlight the exceptional work being done by apprentices up and down the country. At Asda, apprenticeships play a crucial role in helping us develop the huge amount of talent we have within our business.
Since 2017 we have invested over £9m to help support over 1,700 colleagues across all areas of the business, including ALS (Asda Logistics Services), Retail and at our Home Office, allowing colleagues the opportunity to develop skills to help them progress whilst at the same time gaining a personal qualification. In total we support 46 apprenticeship programs at levels two through seven, with our apprentices from a wide range of backgrounds and areas of the country, ranging in age from 18 to 60!
Being an inclusive and diverse business is one of Asda’s key values and encouraging women to take up roles in careers where they are currently underrepresented is important to us. Through the Early Careers Apprenticeship scheme, we have already seen how young women who may not have considered STEM careers initially, can thrive in these career pathways and achieve fantastic results. Our assessment process for entry-level apprenticeships is designed to assess skills and behaviours as well as enthusiasm for all things-tech related rather than past experiences so we encourage women to think about careers that may not have been presented to them before.
Our Huddersfield store's manager Paige Twidale completed her Level 6 Leadership and Business Management apprenticeship. Thirty-year-old Paige, who's married to Matthew and has a 10-year-old daughter, Olivia, said: "The apprenticeship really helped me to develop certain skills, but particularly communication and decision making. My confidence has improved too."
Paige has worked at a number of Asda stores across Yorkshire including Pudsey, Harrogate and Kingswood in Hull and has also managed our Adel and Middleton stores in Leeds. She said: "What I like about the job is that every day is different. I run a shop which has 350 people in it so and I'm responsible for. My heart sits in people management, so being a store manager gives you the opportunity to do that. It's a pressurised job and I do enjoy that. I take pride in what I do."
"If you are thinking about doing an apprenticeship you just need to be brave and bold and just get on with it because it will be one of the best things that will do for your career and for yourself."
Online trading manager Laura Dennington from our Boldon store is completing a Level 6 Retail Leadership Degree. She said: "The apprenticeship is a really good way to be able to consolidate my knowledge. It's something that will benefit me and that I wanted to do to challenge myself more, but it will also benefit Asda as I'm starting to develop different skills.”
Last year we also launched our levy transfer scheme, committing to £2m of investment in apprentices in small businesses across England. We worked with small independent organisations to provide them with the support to either get people into work or progress their careers and in the first year we’ve supported 160 people across 50 SMEs. We’re proud of these numbers and can’t wait to beat them in 2022!
Apprenticeships are not just for new colleagues to the business; we offer colleagues the Senior Leadership Level 7 apprenticeship with our partners Cranfield. New to the program this year, 22 of our senior managers from across the business are taking part in the course aimed at progressing their leadership skills and becoming better managers in their areas.
I would like to pass on my congratulations to all of our past and current apprentices, and I would ask you to keep an eye out on our social media channels for more colleague celebrations throughout National Apprenticeship Week.