lSir, I am writing in support of Terry Jones' article about the importance of businesses offering apprenticeships to young people ('Apprentices are the future of our industry', 15 October, p22).

It's a really tough time to be a young person in Britain and sadly it has become even harder with youth unemployment hitting one million. At The Co-operative Group, we believe business has a real responsibility in helping to motivate and inspire young people by giving them new opportunities to gain skills, knowledge and experience so they can be pioneers for their generation.

A quarter of our employees are under 25 and it is our vision to bring about a cultural shift in the way young people are viewed and treated in this country.

Through our new Apprenticeship Academy we are offering young people across the UK proper jobs with qualifications and real career opportunities and we will be rolling out our Apprenticeship Academy across our Co-operative Food business before the end of this year.

Food retailing is a fantastic industry, with brilliant career opportunities. It needs the drive and enthusiasm of young people more than ever.

So, let's all do our bit to help find the management talent of tomorrow, from the young people of today.

Peter Marks, Group CEO, The ­Co-operative Group