The benefits of an evolving Apprenticeship partnership – our work with the Co-op

Posted by  Ryan Parks, Head of Key Accounts, Apprenticeships,

learndirect has partnered with the Co-op for more than five years and in this time we’ve helped  more than 2,500 employees in gaining a recognised qualification. These qualifications have been delivered across the Co-op’s funeralcare, food, general insurance and head office functions, with learners in all four home nations.

We’ve worked together with the relevant Sector Skills Council and Awarding Bodies to create a completely new Apprenticeship Framework for its funeralcare division, which we began delivering in 2012. This qualification is mandatory to all new starters who complete their initial three month probation, the programme is now fully embedded across the business and has allowed for a consistent approach to training and development.

Recently we celebrated our 1,500th funeralcare learner joining the programme, 67-year-old retired detective sergeant Robert Brown, who’s also the oldest on the programme so far!

Robert from Canterbury, Kent, took up the role after 30 years in the police force and is thoroughly enjoying his apprenticeship.

A photograph of a man, cleaning a hearse.

“I can honestly say there is no other job I’d rather be doing. After a 30-year stint with the police, I did wonder how I would find working in funerals, but I love it. I only wish I’d done it sooner. My wife also recently started working at the Margate funeral home and hopes to become an apprentice in the coming months.”

Since the apprenticeship programme launched in 2013, around 500 have joined Co-op Funeralcare each year.

Lloyd Thomas, Apprenticeship Manager at the Co-op and chair of the Retail Trailblazer says:

“We work in partnership with learndirect, exchanging ideas and understanding so we continually evolve our Apprenticeship programmes across the Group. Our account manager is an extension of our team; he has a thorough understanding of our business and helps unlock a range of specialist skills with learndirect.

“We’re also able to benefit from the broader connections learndirect has in the sector, and regularly contribute to discussions with key stakeholders and other learndirect employer partners.  All of this helps us to challenge our thinking, enabling us to continually evolve our Apprenticeship delivery as part of the overall talent management strategy within the Group.”

As we approach the Apprenticeship Levy we are working together to ensure the Co-op maximises its Levy contribution in line with its social, ethical and talent strategies. The Food division is currently piloting a programme to recruit 50 young apprentices on the new retail Trailblazer standards with an aim to fast track apprentices to Team Leaders.

The Co-op is regularly rated as a ‘Top 100 Apprenticeship Employer’ and Lois McClure, an apprentice with its Membership team won the National Intermediate Apprentice of the Year award at the 2014 National Apprenticeship Service Awards.

A photo of Co-operative Apprentice, Lois McLure.

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