The Minister for Skills & Apprenticeships, Anne Milton MP, has visited Asda’s Home Office in Leeds to meet a group of newly recruited ‘Higher Level’ apprentices as part of her activities during Apprenticeships Week.

During her visit the Minister met a number of apprentices working in the retailers’ IT and food science teams, and found out more about how the newly developed courses are helping women build their careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) professions.

Whilst women are traditionally underrepresented in these areas, 60% of Asda’s apprentices in these areas are women.

The courses are one of several new schemes at Asda that have been designed to recruit talented people into retail. In addition to the IT and Food Science programmes, Asda plans to launch new apprenticeship courses in Data Analysis, Human Resources, Management and even a Level 7 course in Accountancy – equivalent to a Master’s degree – at its home office over the next year.

These programmes are in addition to a range of retail based apprenticeships, which allow colleagues in Asda’s stores and distribution operations to develop their skills. In total, Asda offers 25 different apprenticeship courses across its shops, head offices and distribution centres and will create around 1000 apprenticeship starts over the next two years.

The Rt Hon Anne Milton MP, Minister for Skills & Apprenticeships, said: "It was great to meet apprentices of all levels, including food science degree apprentices, at ASDA in Leeds today and to hear all about the excellent work they're doing. I even got to taste test some products!

"I've been so inspired by all of the stories I've been told by apprentices and businesses during National Apprenticeship Week so far. I urge everyone to get involved in the week to talk about the great opportunities apprenticeships offer."

Kate Fisher, Asda’s Senior Director – Capability, said: “Creating a diverse and highly-skilled flexible workforce is vital for Asda to deliver the innovation and service that our customers expect. We are proud of our apprenticeships programme and the opportunities it creates, and we’re really pleased to be able to expand our offering into some exciting new areas.”

Sarah Eaton, who is studying for a degree level apprenticeship in Food Science, said: “The food science and technology degree apprenticeship has been a great opportunity for me to further my career within the Asda Brand team. I chose this course to further my interests and experience in the food industry and explore the technical and development roles within Asda Brand.

“The opportunity to do an apprenticeship means that I’m able to learn from my team as well as other apprentices in the industry too. I love to learn and having the ability to apply what I am learning to my day job is a great benefit. My aim is to learn more about the work that goes into Asda Brand products from concept to launch and why we do what we do for the benefit and safety of our customers.”

For more information please contact Tori Pourzand on Victoria.pourzand@asda.co.uk