Schoolchildren are being encouraged to consider a career in retail, with the introduction of a new diploma in retail business for 14 to 19 year olds.

The diploma, which was given the go-ahead by the Government last week, has been developed by Skillsmart Retail in conjunction with retailers including Sainsbury's, Tesco, Spar and Waitrose. The course will be available in 42 schools and colleges alongside GCSEs and A-levels and will combine classroom study with retail-based learning and work experience. There will be three levels to the diploma – foundation, higher and advanced – and a choice of 10 subjects will be available from September.

As well as studying the retail business and its supply chain, students will also continue to study English, maths and ICT. The diploma would provide Tesco with the opportunity to work with young people, Jo Baxter, Tesco personnel manager for UK stores and distribution resourcing told The Grocer.

“By gaining work experience, these learners will have an understanding of retail and will be able to add value to our business from the day they start work,” she said. Philip Marchant, corporate development director at Spar UK and chair of the diploma steering group, added: “It is a fantastic new qualification that we have been working really hard to make right, and I can’t wait to see it in action.”