Central England Co-op apprenticeship scheme helping dozens of colleagues in the West Midlands to achieve their career goals

Central England Co-op is helping its colleagues in the West Midlands climb the ladder with a growing apprenticeship programme helping sign makers to store managers take the next step in their careers.

To mark National Apprenticeship Week (February 3 – 9), the Society is shining a light on some of the 78 colleagues who have completed an apprenticeship over the past two years and are highlighting the opportunities available to build a career across the business from food retail to funeral homes.

Among those to have taken the leap and seen the benefits an apprenticeship can bring are Craig Goldie and Katie Whitmore from Wolverhampton who each graduated from the scheme last year in very different roles across the business.

Craig completed his Level 5 Higher Apprenticeship in Leadership and Management which has helped him make the step up in his career to become Loss Prevention Manager at Lichfield-based Central England Co-op.

He said: “Having left school straight into full-time employment, I never had the opportunity to learn at a higher level and I knew that this might hinder my progress throughout my career.

“I always wanted further education but having a young family I could not afford to take time away to attend a college and reduce hours to complete this.

“When I was made aware that Central England Co-op offered an opportunity via the apprenticeship scheme, this provided me with the chance to further my personal learning and career aspirations, without having an impact on my personal life.

“While completing the apprenticeship I was offered the opportunity to lead my team on a temporary basis and having completed the degree I had a further opportunity to lead the team on a permanent basis.

“I genuinely feel that if it wasn’t for the apprenticeship and how I’d developed during this time, I would not have been ready for that step of my career.”

Katie has completed a Level 2 Leadership apprenticeship and is currently completing her Level 3 apprenticeship while working at the Society’s Business Support Centre in Lichfield.

She said: “Having left full-time education at the age of 18 to go straight to work at my local Co-op shop, I’ve always felt I missed out on those extra years of learning, something I genuinely enjoy.

“Five years down the line, undertaking an apprenticeship that I was able to complete alongside my full-time job seemed a great way to get back into a learning environment and develop my skills, while still earning.

“The main benefit I have taken away from the apprenticeship experience so far is a gained confidence in myself and the work I produce. Being introduced to different areas of the business and meeting the people who work there has greatly brought me out of my shell and the nature of my current role demands that I make strong working relationships.

“Taking on an apprenticeship is a great way to learn new skills and not have to change employers or go back to full-time education, while really putting yourself out there to be considered for opportunities to progress with the business.”

Central England Co-op offer apprenticeships in retail, retail distribution, funeral services and operations, floristry, web design and a range of support centre roles.

Helen Stone, Attraction & Recruitment Manager at Central England Co-op, said: “We have been delighted with the success of our apprenticeship programmes over the last couple of years which has seen an amazing 78 colleagues across the Society complete an apprenticeship and we have a further 52 learners currently on the programme.

“Our apprenticeships programmes are carried out in the workplace, so you’ll be learning ‘on the job’ and gaining hands-on experience with the one-to-one support of your line manager and colleagues, the Learning and Development team and an external assessor.

“What’s more, you’ll earn the full rate of pay for the role you’re training towards – so whether you’re a school leaver taking your first steps into the world of work, or you’re re-training towards a new career path, you’ll be rewarded from day one.”

People can find out more about apprenticeships at Central England Co-op at https://www.cecjobs.coop/Appreticeships


Notes to editors

About Central England Co-operative

Central England Co-operative is one of the largest independent retail co-operative societies in the UK. 

It is a modern, forward-looking organisation employing over 8,000 staff, with the Society’s principal areas of activity being food, funeral services, travel shops, and property investment.

Central England Co-operative has over 430 trading outlets across 16 counties including; West Midlands, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Rutland, Nottinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire.  The Society has an ambitious food store development programme for 2020.

Central England Co-operative is proud of its reputation for ethical business practices and corporate responsibility.  It is a member of Business in the Community, the membership organisation that stands for responsible business, and has also won many business awards for excellence.  The Society supports several charities including Dementia UK and invests a percentage of its trading profit into local communities.

Becoming a member of Central England Co-operative offers a whole host of benefits ranging from collecting points every time you spend in store to earn a share of the profits, access to members activities and community initiatives including the Community Dividend Fund, which hands out grants of up to £5,000 to charities and good causes across the Society’s trading estate.

Find out how to become a Central England Co-operative member by calling 0800 0501 601, emailing members@centralengland.coop or visiting https://www.members.coop

For more information visit www.centralengland.coop, follow Central England Co-operative on Twitter: @mycoopfood, and on Facebook: facebook.com/centralenglandcooperative

Rob Smyth and James Brindle at Central England Co-operative on 01543 421390

Email –publicrelations@centralengland.coop