The Co-op is creating more than 300 large goods vehicle driver apprenticeship roles in a bid to tackle the ongoing driver shortage.
The apprenticeships offer the opportunity to work towards a Class 1 licence and kickstart a career in driving, the convenience retailer said.
The scheme will run for 12 to 15 months in locations nationwide, with various start dates throughout next year. It is open to existing Co-op staff as well as external candidates.
Within three months, apprentices will become fully operational drivers. During this time, they will carry out practical and theoretical learning, paid for by the Co-op, and study a range of modules including driving regulations and customer service.
Once qualified, they will receive a starting salary of £23,753 to £25,584, depending on location.
During the rest of their time on the scheme, apprentices will be offered additional learning modules including in managing conflict, essential vehicle checks and loading, driver safety at work, vulnerable road users, and safe and fuel-efficient driving and manoeuvring.
Recruitment for the roles has already started and will continue throughout 2022. Anyone with a full UK/EU car driving licence can apply and no professional driving experience is required.
The Co-op is also working with third party haulier services, GXO and Wincanton, to train a further 207 apprentices to deliver Co-op logistics at selected sites.
“The transport sector needs long-term sustainable change,” said Co-op Food CEO Jo Whitfield. “Through our apprenticeship programme, we’ll be able to help driver recruitment by attracting new talent and make the sector more appealing to younger people.
“These apprenticeships are part of our broader apprenticeship commitment at the Co-op to improve social mobility.
“I’m pleased to see the Co-op leading the way and the last few months have only stressed the importance of drivers who are not only providing a service that is so vital for our business but for society as a whole.”
Minister for skills Alex Burghart said: “It’s great to see Co-op continuing to invest in apprenticeships with the creation of 300 LGV apprentice roles.
“Apprenticeships are a superb way to launch careers or upskill in a wide range of key industries, and crucially help to plug workforce shortages by providing people with high-quality training in the skills businesses need to thrive.”