Department store firm John Lewis invests for the future with more than 100 new retail and IT apprenticeships for school-leavers

Retail giant John Lewis is looking to freshen up its stock of department store and IT staff this year with two apprenticeship schemes.

Following the success of its first Retail Apprenticeship programme last year, the company is to recruit 100 more trainees in 2013/14 and all those who complete the process are guaranteed to receive jobs with the firm.

The scheme recruited 80 young apprentices last year and the follow-up will see staff placed in various departments among 25 of John Lewis' 39 stores in England, Scotland and Wales this September. The company is also launching a Technology Apprenticeship initiative that will see new staff working at its head office and assisting its IT teams.

John Lewis is targeting young people leaving school at 16 and those who have completed their A-Levels with intermediate and advanced schemes at levels two and three in retailing. The one-year programmes will give apprentices the opportunity to receive qualifications at these levels as well as practical experience of working in its department stores.

The first scheme was a huge success to John Lewis and the first set of apprentices "have hit the ground running", according to the company's personnel director Laura Whyte. She said John Lewis was looking forward to increasing the number of apprenticeship places it offered by a quarter this year.

She said it was important to give young people alternatives to university education and provide them with the skills they need for their careers in the retail industry. The current crop will soon be completing the first programme and the company would look to help them progress their careers further, she added.

QA Apprenticeships is backing the 18-month, Level 3 Technology Apprenticeships that will see new IT staff assigned to projects while learning Java Programming and taking part in other work-based learning.

But John Lewis is making sure they all receive a decent grounding in the retail industry first with a two-week work placement among its London outlets, including the flagship Oxford Street department store.

Copyright Press Association 2013