Asda staff will have the opportunity to gain a degree in Distribution or Retail Operations under a new programme in partnership with Middlesex University.
The three-year programme offers 30 Asda staff the opportunity to study for a BA, while retaining a salaried position in-store. It follows a successful pilot last year.
The scheme involves 12 days of classroom workshops, work-based assessments, online study and peer networking.
Students on the retail degree will learn about merchandising, the retail environment, managing and developing people, and managing retail operations to maximise a profit. Those on the distribution programme will study specific modules in supply chain management and logistic operations, Asda said.
Successful applicants, who are selected by Asda based on performance and potential, rather than past academic achievement, will supplement the theory with work-based learning projects, personal development planning and off-site studying, the retailer added.
“By providing the opportunity to study for a degree, we hope that we can open more doors for our colleagues, developing their skills for the future”
Hayley Tatum, Asda
“The current economic climate – coupled with the spiralling costs of higher education – means that many of our colleagues have missed out on university degrees,” said Asda’s executive people director Hayley Tatum.
“By providing the opportunity to study for a degree, we hope that we can open more doors for our colleagues, developing their skills for the future. Through the programme, we hope to create a pool of home-grown talent, the future leaders of Asda.”
Jay Robinson, 20, section leader at an Asda store in Bedfordshire, recently enrolled on the retail degree pilot scheme after working at the supermarket for just over two years. Jay had ambitions of going to university after leaving school with three A-levels, but turned down a place at Southampton University because of concerns over the cost of tuition fees.
“I had always thought that I would take the traditional route towards a degree. However, with the recent rise in tuition fees I began to worry about the level of debt and the lack of a job at the end, so reconsidered my options,” he said.
“This is exactly the kind of approach other industries need to follow,” said the CBI’s director of employment and skills Neil Carberry. “It sends a clear message that major employers should work with universities to give staff top-level skills for their whole career, not just their current job. Higher tuition loans means people are getting far more savvy in looking for firms which give great on-the-job training and long-term prospects, without getting into debt.”
Staff must be 18 or over and must have worked at Asda for at least six months.