DIY retailer B&Q today revealed plans to double its apprenticeship intake this year, in an announcement timed to mark the start of National Apprenticeship Week.
From September 2010, the group aims to more than double the number of places it offers to 300 and, for the first time, will open applications to external candidates as well as currently employed staff.
B&Q has 130 staff completing its first Retail Apprenticeship Programme, with all on track to achieve it in July.
Euan Sutherland, chief executive of B&Q and parent company Kingfisher UK said: “By investing in qualifications we’re helping ensure B&Q has friendly expert staff of all ages. Customers can shop with more confidence, knowing that they are being given sound advice by staff.”
Simon Waugh, chief executive of the National Apprenticeship Service, added: “It is fantastic news to hear that B&Q is doubling its intake of apprentices, providing opportunities to many more committed individuals across the country.”
The move came as a survey of more than 500 business leaders by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) revealed that 69% believe apprenticeships are an effective way of developing management skills.
Most respondents (92%) said that teamwork and interpersonal skills are improved by apprenticeship programmes. A further 84% believe that problem-solving and analytical thinking skills are enhanced.
Ruth Spellman, chief executive of the CMI, said: “Perceptions about apprentices and apprenticeship schemes are out-dated. We’re facing a skills shortage in this country – not least among managers, where just one in five is professionally qualified – and this has been exacerbated by cutbacks on investment in training due to the recession.
“We urgently need to increase our investment in skills development and it is welcome news that employers see management apprentices as a cost effective way of doing this.”