Waitrose is to launch a new year-long apprenticeship scheme next month.

The grocer is to roll out a scheme that will offer up to 200 apprenticeships across the business over the course of the next 12 months.  

All new large Waitrose stores will offer up to three apprenticeships from the day they open while its convenience shops will offer one apprenticeship each.

The apprenticeships are designed to give young people a rounded view of the work that occurs in store. They will receive a Level 2 Retail Apprenticeship qualification at the end of the 12 months.

Over the next year, Waitrose said it will be looking to offer apprenticeships in other areas of our business, including maintenance, distribution, catering and customer services.

The roll out of the scheme across Waitrose’s estate follows a successful trial over the past year during which 13 of its shops have been running apprenticeships for 41 candidates.  

Waitrose learning and development manager Tanya Cooper said: “It’s important to Waitrose that, in these difficult economic times, we give young people opportunities to develop their careers - they are the future of our business and our industry.

“Our apprenticeship scheme will give candidates a great insight into our business and help them to develop many valuable skills which they can apply throughout the retail sector.”

Waitrose managing director Mark Price defended retail during the work experience row earlier this year. He said at the time: “The assumption is that this is free, but it’s actually an admin and training cost. [Retailers] do not do it for free labour.”

The comes after Saisnbury’s last week re-launched its trainee manager scheme doubling the number of new applicants to 150 places.