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 course 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 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.

“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 we can open more doors for our colleagues. Through the programme, we hope to create a pool of home-grown talent, the future leaders of Asda.”

CBI director of employment and skills Neil Carberry added: “This is exactly the kind of approach other industries need to follow. It sends a clear message that major employers should work with universities to give staff top-level skills for their whole career.”