Source: Holland & Barrett

The retail launched its apprenticeship scheme in 2020.

Holland & Barrett has hailed the progress of its apprenticeship scheme, after it was rated highly by Ofsted.

In what was its first full inspection since the scheme launched three years ago, the health and wellness retailer was given a rating of “good” overall by the standards office. 

The review, which took place in July, was based on interviews with apprentices, managers and training providers across the business. It focused on five key areas, including personal development, attitude of learners, leadership and management, safeguarding, and the quality of the education provided.

In its report, Ofsted particularly praised the retailer for the “inclusive and supportive working environment” it had created for apprentices.

“We are delighted with the result of the Ofsted inspection, which is a testament to the ongoing dedication and hard work of colleagues throughout H&B, and of course to those undertaking their apprenticeship with us,” said Holland & Barrett director of learning & development Gerald Pearce.

“H&B is relatively new to the world of apprenticeships, gaining our employer provider status in July 2020,” he added. “Ofsted sets high standards from its training providers, and to be awarded a ‘good’ rating on our first inspection provides reassurance of the high quality of our programmes which help to develop our colleagues’ skills and support them in achieving their career aspirations.”

Under the scheme, which spans the retailer’s stores, head office and supply chain, H&B offers qualifications in areas including marketing, human resources, distribution, finance and general management. It is part of its wider career development programme, known as H&B Grow.

Most major grocers have launched their own tailored form of apprenticeship scheme, following the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy in 2017.

However, a growing number of retailers, including most recently Superdrug, have called for reform of the system, which they argue is too restrictive and prevents retailers from adequately spending the money set aside as part of the levy.

In August the health and beauty retailer launched a new ‘Rise Up to Level Up’ campaign, in which it is also pledging to take on 500 apprentices this year and double its intake over three years.

It echoed similar calls for reform from M&S, in February, and Tesco in March.

Read more: Holland & Barrett accounts reveal extent of struggle