Nestlé has introduced apprenticeships in HR, finance and supply chain to give school leavers put off university by high tuition fees more career options.

The apprenticeship scheme was to ensure Nestlé was still attracting the best possible people now that universities are able to charge tuition fees of up to £9,000 a year.

“Not everyone wants to, or can afford to go to university, so we want to encourage them to consider joining us,” said Nestlé’s HR director Matt Stripe.

For those who do want to go to university but cannot afford to, Nestlé had also begun to fund or partially fund their path through further education, said Stripe.

It wanted to become more flexible in the way it recruited young people and developed new recruits, he said. The apprenticeship programme, for example, had been opened up to offer a route through to foundation or honours degree programmes.

In total, Nestlé has committed to doubling its apprentice numbers to 100 over the course of 2012, across technical and non-technical roles.

The company was also keen to demonstrate where an apprenticeship could lead, said Stripe. To coincide with National Apprentice Week next week, senior managers, including Stripe, who started his career as an apprentice at BAE Systems, will spend the day shadowing Nestlé’s apprentices.

“Not every senior member of staff started out as a graduate - this will show that is the case,” said Stripe.

Meanwhile, The Co-operative Group will recruit 800 new apprentices in 2012 - double the number it recruited last year. The society’s £9m Apprenticeship Academy scheme is on track to provide apprenticeships for 2,000 young people by 2014.