John Lewis has launched a technology apprenticeship as it continues to grow its IT department.

The retailer said it wants to develop its in-house IT skills and technology expertise through the scheme, as well as help boost the skills of young people interested in technology.

IT director Paul Coby says: “We’re seeing a real skills gap in young people where IT and technology are concerned, and as a keen investor in talent we’ve recognised that this needs to be addressed as we strive to become a leading omni-channel retailer. We recognise the importance of technological innovation and the apprentices we take on will be crucial in helping us to achieve our goal.”

Five technology apprentices will be taken on in year 2013/14, and Coby says he hopes to increase the intake in the following year.

The technology scheme will run alongside John Lewis’ retail apprenticeship, which has 100 spaces this year, up from 80 in 2012/13. The retail scheme is aimed at young people, with successful candidates working in 25 of the retailer’s 39 stores across the UK.

Those on the technology scheme, meanwhile, will be based with IT teams and assigned to specific projects, after two weeks on the shop floor to give them an understanding of the world of retail. The scheme will take 12 to 18 months and is supported by training provider QA.