Degree apprentices

Local professionals celebrate success on National Apprenticeship Week

In celebration of National Apprenticeship Week, Central Co-op shines a spotlight on two outstanding local apprentices, Chris Dutton from Burntwood and Rhianne McLean from Burton-on-Trent, who have excelled in their respective apprenticeship programs.
Chris Dutton, Senior Category Manager
Chris recently completed his Level 4 Data Academy apprenticeship, a unique opportunity that arose when the Data & Analytics team at Central Co-op sought to expand data skills across the Society. The program covered a comprehensive curriculum, combining mathematical techniques with concepts around Python and SQL for data analysis, big data exploration and machine learning applications.
Chris reflects on the experience, saying: “I’ve got an analytical mindset, so the prospect of learning new tools and techniques was really inviting. The mentoring and learning resources that were provided were excellent, along with access to reading materials for additional learning.
“Effective communication with line managers is crucial, and I was fortunate to receive overwhelming support in completing the course. Both the apprenticeship provider and Central Co-op were accommodating to working around my schedule.”

Rhianne McLean, Senior Operations Manager
Rhianne chose to pursue a Level 5 Operational Departmental Manager apprenticeship, a 2.5-year program focused on operational development for managerial roles. Starting as a Store Manager in retail, Rhianne aimed to enhance her leadership skills and broaden her knowledge to excel in potential leadership opportunities – which is exactly what she did – completing her apprenticeship and getting promoted to Senior Operations Manager.
Reflecting on her journey, Rhianne states, “The apprenticeship was intense but rewarding, focusing on specific skills and behaviours required for successful team leadership. It pushed me out of my comfort zone, enabling significant personal and professional growth. Regular check-ins and support from line managers were pivotal to my success.”
Rhianne encourages those considering the apprenticeship path, commenting: “If anyone is unsure of their next career step or is looking to enhance their leadership skills, this apprenticeship is a great opportunity!”

Apprenticeships at Central Co-op
With its Support Centre in Lichfield, Staffordshire, Central Co-op is dedicated to providing opportunities and development for local young people.
In 2023, 22 Central Co-op colleagues completed apprenticeships, many achieving distinctions across various programs. An additional 41 learners joined programs from level 2 to level 6, including coaching professional programs, debt-free degree programs, and specialised funeral programs.
“We enrolled seven colleagues in our first debt-free degree level 6 program in October last year, giving colleagues the opportunity to earn a degree without the expense of traditional university paths.” shares Nicola Thomas, Early Careers Manager at Central Co-op. Plans are underway to offer more level 6 and 7 apprenticeships this year.
The number of new apprentices doubled from 20 in 2022 to 41 in 2023, highlighting Central Co-op’s dedication to fostering local talent and providing diverse opportunities for professional development. The achievements of these apprentices will be celebrated at a special event on February 6th, marking a proud moment for the Society during National Apprenticeship Week.
With a further increase in the number of apprenticeship opportunities set to be revealed this year, Central Co-op remains one to watch as it continues to empower and support the growth of its local workforce. The local employer will be offering a range of new and diverse programmes while increasing the number of colleagues enrolled onto existing programmes, to give more people the opportunity to gain a professional qualification.

For further information on Central Co-op’s initiatives, head to the Central Co-op website, or to find out more about what’s like to work at Central Co-op visit the careers site. Details on becoming a Member can be found on the Membership site.

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