Sainsbury’s and Asda are setting up training schemes to push food as a career choice to young people.

Speaking at the IGD Skills Summit today, Sainsbury’s chief executive Justin King will say that Britain should create a world-leading food industry and that the food sector had been neglected by policymakers.

Sainsbury’s will reveal today that it is opening Britain’s first bakery college to speed up and standardise the training of bakers for its 412 in-store bakeries. The grocer said the bakery college will halve the time it takes to train a baker to NVQ level and improve quality control.

Asda will reveal it will offer 15,000 work experience places to 14 and 16 year olds and a further 15,000 apprenticeships to existing staff.

As part of the scheme, each of Asda’s 371 stores will be adopting a local school or college to help introduce young people into the world of work.

The programme, which was shaped by interviews and focus groups with more than 100 young people across the UK, means that instead of sweeping up, running errands and making the tea, young people will get proper retail experience including stock control, logistics, customer service and working in the community.

Andy Clarke, Asda’s chief operating officer, will say today: “One million people under the age of 25 are unemployed, and it’s probably going to get worse before it gets better. That’s why I’m determined that we do everything we can now to help young people get a foot in the door., This is about giving them a hand up, not a hand out.”

The Government has placed work experience and apprenticeships at the heart of plans to prevent youth unemployment.

King said: “There’s been a view – and it’s almost our fault for allowing it to exist – that food manufacturing and food science jobs are inferior to heavy industry and engineering.

“Food manufacturing is a massive contributor to wealth. The automotive industry and heavy industry get talked about, often because of their export potential… But the level of employment food manufacturing creates is huge. We’re able to offer genuine life career opportunities.”