Debt Free Degrees Ensure Career Development at Central Co-op

Posted by sam bishop | Published: 03/07/2023

The cost of living crisis has affected all aspects of life worldwide, and a recent study from Career Ready and Total Jobs showed that 24% of young talent believed university wasn’t an option because of the associated costs. This is why, as a part of its continued focus on making the working lives of colleagues richer in the Society, Central Co-op wants to ensure that development is an option for colleagues and has announced the launch of its Debt Free Degrees programme in conjunction with GetMyFirstJob and Arden University. 

This will include Chartered Manager degree apprenticeships at level 6, with opportunities in retail and the funeral business. These individuals will develop their skills, knowledge, and behaviours in the role, with the intention of becoming leaders of the future.  

These Chartered Manager apprenticeships will be open to both internal colleagues and external candidates, as Central Co-op is keen to attract talent while also fostering growth from talented colleagues already within the Society.  

Upon completion, colleagues will earn Chartered Manager, BA Hons and CMI leadership qualifications, and the course will cover modules ranging from communication and business finance to data analysis and decision making.  

Central Co-op is also exploring other level 6 apprenticeships for internal colleagues to apply for, including marketing, IT, digital, and commercial. These will develop skills for colleagues and give the top talent in the Society opportunities for development and growth.  

Development of youth talent is a big priority for Central Co-op, which is why earlier this year it committed to offering 300 work experience placements in the next year, at the same time launching a scheme called ‘Adopt a School’, through which stores and funeral homes can support their local schools, colleges, and universities by offering employability initiatives, building on the existing community links at the heart of the Society. Schools or colleges interested in working with us are encouraged to contact their local food store or funeral home

Central Co-op also launched its Funeral Apprenticeship Programme earlier this year, in which opportunities have been offered for people to join the Society as a Funeral Service Assistant Apprentice, completing a Level 2 Funeral Team Member apprenticeship. This is an 18-month programme where apprentices will learn all they need to become a Funeral Service Assistant.  

Nicola Thomas, Early Careers Manager, said: “People don’t always think it’s possible to get advanced qualifications like degrees, especially with the cost of living crisis, and at Central Co-op we wanted to make sure that people know they can progress here. It is important for us to foster youth talent, and this is just one of the many ways we’re ensuring that opportunities are open for everyone to grow their skills and pursue career development. We are a caring community, and that extends to those wanting a structured career path with us.” 

Applications are open here, and the first assessment centres in the programmes should start in August.  

For further details, head to the Central Co-op website, Facebook, and Twitter. Details on becoming a Member can be found on the Membership site


About Central Co-op 

Central Co-op is one of the largest independent retail co-operative societies in the UK, with a heritage stretching back over 175 years and interests in food, funeral, floral and property investment.  

Owned by hundreds of thousands of members, its 7,700 colleagues serve customers across 440 plus trading sites in 21 counties in the East and West Midlands, Yorkshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire.   

Its purpose is to create a sustainable Society for all.   

It actively campaigns for food justice and works with FareShare Midlands and a network of local food banks. It also adds £1 to every Healthy Start Voucher redeemed in store and supports six schools in partnership with Magic Breakfasts. 

The Society embraces inclusivity and equality and is a signed-up member to the Business in the Community (BITC) Race at Work Charter. The Society is also a member of Diversity in Retail and it is fully committed to addressing the impacts of climate change by reducing carbon and food waste, increasing recycling and investment in community Sustainable Spaces funded by the carrier bag levy. It recently launched its Malawi Partnership to support farmers and producers in the country through the Co-operative International Trading Development Fund.  

It invests a percentage of its trading profit into local communities through its Community Dividend Fund scheme which has seen over £109,769.25 shared out between 121 good causes in 2022. 

Press office contact: Sam Bishop, PR Specialist  

Contact details:  

07385 048048