Asda has pledged itself to a three-year plan to employ more young people, particularly those living in deprived areas, in its supermarkets.
The ‘Giving Young People a Chance’ initiative should mean store recruitment would create jobs in areas of the country where young people were “losing hope”, according to Andy Clarke, chief operating officer at Asda.
He said recent figures showed 917,000 18- to 24-year-olds were receiving benefits.
He gave the IGD Convention in London the example of Hull, which has the worst GCSE pass rates in the country and where young people said they had little incentive to do well at school.
Yet, he said, these same young people were the “customer base of tomorrow”.
Nationally, he said, more than half the street crimes and a quarter of burglaries were committed by people under the age of 16 years.
Clarke said businesses should be doing more to get young people into employment, possibly through the use of apprenticeships that would give them “purpose and an introduction to work”.
He said had some sympathy with Asda store managers for not employing enough young people as they preferred to take on older and more experienced workers.
Asda did, however, employ 10,000 seasonal workers each year and three-quarters of them were aged 16 to 24 years and the challenge to the supermarket was to retain as many of those young people as possible and bring them into the retail industry.
Clarke said over the next three years Asda would endeavour to employ more young people in its stores. “As well as looking for older people with the right skills, we will look for young people with the right attitudes,” he said.