Tesco is throwing open the doors of its Cheshunt HQ in a new recruitment drive to encourage school leavers “with a passion for retail” to take jobs as buyers and merchandisers.

In October, it is launching a scheme specifically aimed at A-level students and school leavers who don’t want or can’t afford to go to university.

A total of 30 places are being offered for roles on the commercial teams covering food, clothing and non-food.

Tesco said the move would give school leavers the chance to work with “the best in the business”.

“Not everyone wants to go to university before they start working, and in a tough jobs market we want to help talented students looking to start their career,” said Justine Dinter, head of commercial resourcing at Tesco.

“We want to employ young people with a passion for retail who can spot trends in areas such as fashion and food. Our new trainees will need to understand what our customers want.”

The two-year programme is in addition to the retailer’s existing store trainee management programme for school leavers, which was launched in February 2010 to offer an ‘earn while you learn’ alternative to the mainstream education system.

The two-year fast-track scheme gives leavers the potential to progress to store manager level by the age of 23 - on a then-expected salary of £50,000-plus.

The deadline to apply for the new commercial programme is 30 September.