The Co-operative Group has reported apprentice retention rates 20% higher than the national average for its Apprenticeship Academy.

The society, which launched the academy last year as part of its pledge to create 2,000 apprenticeships over the next two years, said its 89% retention rate was 20% higher than the national average.

The £9m academy offers young people transferable skills, competitive salaries and qualifications, working across the society’s businesses, which include food, pharmacy, motors, legal, financial services and farming.

It has also appointed Carolyn Sidebotham as group emerging talent manager to oversee the academy and its Graduate Leadership Programme.

“After one year, we already have hundreds of enthusiastic and hard-working young people working across our business, learning about their specific industry and getting paid competitive salaries with a guaranteed job at the end,” Sidebotham said.

“We have taken a strategic look at all routes open to young people to start their career at The Co-op Group, to help them see the right career path, gain qualifications in their chosen field, learn about how we do business and enjoy a long career with us regardless of their route into the business.”

The Co-op Group revealed in February that it planned to take on 800 apprentices this year, in its bid to hit its 2,000 apprentice target.

Of the society’s 100,000 staff, 30,000 are under 25.