Sainsbury’s is to open six food colleges across the UK and hire a further 500 staff.

The colleges will train staff working on the meat, fish, deli, hot food and cafes. In addition, it will recruit a further 500 staff to work on its counters and cafes next year. It said this is to meet increased demand for customers for food from the counters and for its store expansion plans.

At the colleges staff will cover product knowledge, knife and preparation skills and customer service. Sainsbury’s anticipates that more than 8,500 staff will pass through the colleges per year, rising to 10,000.

Gwyn Burr, Sainsbury’s customer service and colleague director, said: “Sainsbury’s has an unrivalled heritage of offering fresh food dating back over 141 years and our counters are an integral part of this.

“We know from customer feedback that customers enjoy the great tasting food and really value the great service they receive on our counters but we were keen to improve this even further. We believe that the skills that our colleagues will learn and develop at the Colleges will play a big part in our future success.”

The colleges follow on from the opening of a bakery college earlier this year.