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Leading UK retailer signs pledge to improve apprenticeships for young women

One of the UK’s top retailers has joined forces with a national charity supporting women aged 16-30 struggling to live on low or no pay, to encourage employers to make apprenticeships work better for young women.

Asda, which has 621 stores across the country and employs over 170,000 staff, signed the pledge which was launched by Young Women’s Trust as part of the charity’s campaign to improve apprenticeships for young women.

According to research undertaken by Young Women’s Trust, female apprentices are more likely to earn 20% less, receive less training and be found in a narrower range of sectors compared to their male counterparts. They are also more likely to be out of employment once they finish their apprenticeship compared to young men.

Asda is owned by the Walmart family - one of the world’s largest retailers - and has a strong reputation for being an inclusive employer as it believes its people is what makes Asda a special place to work. So looking after colleagues and ensuring they feel valued is really important, as well as maintaining the strong culture it has created.

Asda’s apprenticeship programme was developed in partnership with Babcock training and since April 2013, nearly 5,000 learners have completed the programme with 2,064 currently studying on it.

The retailer offers a comprehensive apprenticeships programme for both existing staff and new employees; in store, permanent staff are offered level 2 and 3 apprenticeships in a variety of areas including administration, home shopping and retail management.
They are also offered at head office within the IT and Supply teams, which are open to both existing employees and new recruits. Asda has a good track record of supporting learners and earners, including mothers and young women, but they believe more can be done to attract the right talent.

Nick Green, Senior Director for Talent and Capability, at Asda, said:
“Creating a diverse workforce is not only good for business but it is the right thing to do. We believeit is important to encourage the top talent into our organisation and apprenticeships are just onemeans of doing so. We are proud of our apprenticeships programme and the opportunities it creates for our employees. At Asda, we are committed to inclusion and thoroughly endorse thisinitiative.”

Barclays and the Builders Merchant Federation, the only membership body representing merchantsin the construction sector, are amongst the other employers who have signed the pledge.

Dr Carole Easton, Chief Executive of Young Women’s Trust, said:
“It is fantastic to see one of the UK’s top retailers sign our pledge to improve apprenticeships for young women. Asda already has a formidable reputation as an inclusive employer with an excellent apprenticeship programme and it is encouraging to see that they are committed to doing so much more. We hope Asda’s support will encourage more retailers to come forward and improve apprenticeships for young women.”

Apprentices are recruited annually at Asda and with the Apprenticeship Levy coming into force in 2017, the programme is set to evolve and develop with the Trailblazer standard being trialled later this year.