The Co-operative Farms, the farming arm of The Co-operative Group, is launching an apprenticeship scheme to find the next generation of farmers to supply its stores with no experience necessary.

In the first stage of a broader scheme, which will initially create 2,000 new apprenticeships across The Co-operative Group, eight apprenticeships are being offered at six farms across England and Scotland from the beginning of April.

The scheme is aimed at 17 to 19-year-olds who will be taught about key areas of the Co-op's farming business, specifically growing cereals, fruit and veg. Farms in Gloucestershire, Warwickshire, Cambridge-shire, Herefordshire, Kent and the Scottish Borders are taking part and students will get the chance to complete an agricultural NVQ up to level three in two to three years, depending on their experience. Four weeks of training will be provided by Reaseheath College in Cheshire, where students will stay in the halls of residence.

The apprenticeships were a great opportunity for young people to join Britain's biggest farmer, which has more than 50,000 acres of land, said Co-operative Farms managing director Christine Tacon. "We have always attracted a very high calibre of employee, so there is an established wealth of knowledge that people working on our farms can pass on to the people who will step into their shoes," she said.