The Apprentices

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AHEAD of National Apprenticeship Week which begins on Monday, it is encouraging that The Co-Operative Group is to recruit 800 new apprentices this year, twice as many as in 2011. It may only be a tiny fraction of the number of new jobs that are required to offset record levels of youth unemployment, but it is testament to the Co-op movement’s roots in social responsibility.

That said, it is not just the young who require training opportunities. Independent supermarket Booths, which has stores in Ripon and Ilkley, has started apprenticeships for the over-60s – recognition that more people will have to broaden their horizons to help pay for their dotage.

With a quarter of the population expected to be aged 65 or over within a quarter of a century, people of a more mature age are having to adapt and become more flexible – a pension alone may not be sufficient to sustain a reasonable quality of life.

This is illustrated by the large increase in pensioners working in supermarkets. While they’re doing so out of necessity, their lifetime of experience means they also offer unrivalled customer service.