Tesco says retailers would be able to train more drivers while equipping as many as 8,000 more people with retail-specific skills if the apprenticeship system were reformed.
The omnichannel supermarket, the UK’s largest private employer with more than 300,000 members of staff, has put forward three suggested reforms to widen the scope of the Apprenticeship Levy and allow new forms of training to be funded by it.
It says it makes a £53bn contribution to the wider UK economy, set out through a new economic and social impact report. The report comes after a year of pandemic, in which supermarket workers were recognised as essential workers as they delivered goods to vulnerable shoppers ordering online and kept store services going while other shops closed. The Road Haulage Association and Logistics UK both flagged up driver shortages this summer, as a result of factors including Covid-19 and Brexit, while The Entertainer founder Gary Grant recently warned that staff and skills shortages will soon extend to online warehouses as Christmas approaches. Yesterday, the CBI warned that staff shortages affecting supply chains could last for two years.
In today’s report, Tesco suggests three new reforms that it says would mean it – and other retailers – could train up workers in different geographic areas and working in smaller stores through apprenticeships.
Tesco is calling on the government to allow up to 10% of levy funds to be used to support high quality pre-employment and pre-apprenticeship programmes, to allow levy funds to be spent on shorter courses, and to allow 10% of funds to cover a share of apprenticeship costs outside of training. The last point, says Tesco, would mean smaller shops and companies could significantly expand the number of apprenticeships they offer.
Tesco chief executive Ken Murphy says: “This report shows that what we do as a business has an impact on everyone around us, not just our customers and colleagues, but also the local communities we operate in. It is fantastic to see the contribution of Tesco so far, but I know there is more we can do and we are absolutely ready to play our part as the UK rebuilds following the pandemic.There is a real opportunity here to boost jobs growth, after one of the most challenging years. What we’re asking for is simply the flexibility to use the Apprenticeship Levy to its full potential and give young people the valuable skills, training and experience that will translate into better opportunities in their careers.”
Tesco is an Elite retailer in RXUK Top500 research.