Our Senior Director of Talent and Capability, Kate Fisher, writes about why it’s important to invest in our colleagues, helping them learn the skills which will further their careers…

At Asda, we’ve a great range of training programmes to support our colleagues to take their next step in their career journey; our apprenticeships are a big part of this. Over the past seven years we’ve celebrated over 13,000 of our colleagues, who are now enjoying the benefits of their new qualifications.

We all know that the way we shop has changed, and at Asda we want to make sure our colleagues have all the skills they need to offer our customers the great service they expect in this new environment. The introduction of the apprenticeship levy in April 2017 enabled us to take our colleague training programme to the next level, offering apprenticeships which allow our colleagues to gain a recognised qualification in anything from software development to retail management.

Our colleagues really benefit from this. Sarah Eaton, who has started a Food Technical Degree Apprenticeship, said: “I have opened up my network in the food industry and made new contacts in a number of different areas. This has also pushed me to step out of my comfort zone and take opportunities I may have shied away from before.”

And, as a business, we’re reaping the rewards too with 25 Data Analyst apprentices, 30 Project Management apprentices and 170 Leadership & Management apprentices developing their knowledge and improving the way we work. The programmes we offer are a fantastic opportunity to professionalise our existing workforce and to attract new talent to the retail sector. Through apprenticeships, we’ve seen colleagues become more engaged and our workforce is becoming increasingly multi-skilled. This is vital to make sure we can continue to keep up with the changes we see in retail.

This year, we'll train over 1,500 apprentices on 37 different programmes and over the next 18 months we'll extend our apprenticeship offer even further to include multiple entry points for school leavers and young people to embark on an exciting and rewarding career at Asda.

We’ll also continue to work closely with the ESFA to provide them with targeted feedback on the design of new standards and how the apprenticeship levy can be best utilised to support our goal to invest in skills development that will provide transferable and future-proof skills for all of our colleagues.

Our commitment to colleague development is clear: we’ll continue to offer superb apprenticeship programmes for our existing colleagues and those colleagues who would like to be part of this rewarding industry.