Young man standing or working in a bakery

Traineeships are available for a wide range of sectors and give young people a chance to ‘try before you buy’

From supermarkets to greengrocers to independent farms and online outlets, the food retail sector is continually on the lookout for new talent.

However, not many young people are aware of the breadth of opportunities – or they are unsure about how to get into a food retail career, especially with little or no work experience or existing qualifications.

Traineeships can be a great way to make your first move into food retail and explore the opportunities available.

Traineeships are a government-backed scheme designed to help young people take their first steps into a career and prepare them for work or an apprenticeship.

They include a work placement, work preparation training, English and maths tuition, on the job training with an employer and, under some circumstances, a vocational ‘taster.’ Traineeships are unpaid, but expenses and travel are often covered.

I’ve seen many of my students flourish during traineeships and think every young person can stand to benefit from this programme, so I wanted to share with you my five top reasons for why you should consider a Traineeship in food retail.

1. You get to take your first step to success

A traineeship in food retail provides 16 – 24 year olds with their very first step onto the career ladder of their choice. Traineeships can last between six weeks to six months, but the average is typically around three months. The options are plentiful, from convenience stores to larger chain supermarkets – there is a working environment for everyone. You can search for places available near you on the government’s Traineeship Website.

2. You can try before you buy

A key aspect of traineeships is they allow you work and train in a sector and gain valuable practical experience. That way, you can get a feel for whether it’s the right career for you, rather than entering a job and agreeing to a role before you understand what’s really involved. Similarly, it enables employers to get to know potential employees and make sure they fit in before hiring. If you find you do enjoy the programme, you could progress to an apprenticeship, which are now available from Level 2 through to degree level.

Read more: What it’s like to work as a chocolate technician at Mondelez 

3. It’s a great confidence builder

We find many of our young students have a lack of self-assurance. The great thing about traineeships is you will be supported by a mentor in the work placement and your training provider will help build your confidence and work out what is right for you. Many providers will also embed employability skills and optional modules themed around your chosen sector, such as an Award in Food Safety, to give you the skills to be confident in your role.

4. You get a guaranteed job interview

Another benefit of traineeships is that, on achievement, the employer will provide you with a guaranteed interview for any suitable positions available within their business. This enables you to progress to employment within the same workplace and, should you enter an apprenticeship position, with the same trainers and support in place. If there are no suitable job roles, you will be provided with structured feedback and supported by your training provider to find alternative employment.

5. The figures show it’s working

Our own statistics for the 2016/17 academic year show 85% of trainees that stay on programmes and complete their work placement progress onto a positive destination, such as employment or an apprenticeship. This shows the benefits of enrolling onto a traineeship are not only theoretical, but actually proven in practice.

Debbie Gardiner is CEO of Qube Learning