Apprenticeships sow seeds of success

We're nurturing talent in food and farming – with an apprenticeship scheme for young people.

At Sainsbury’s, we rely on a network of talented food growers and farmers to deliver the ingredients and products for our stores. The people in these businesses might not work for us, but they help make us who we are.

But there’s a growing concern. Farming is suffering from a lack of new talent – because not enough young people see it as a career.

According to YouGov data, three-quarters of young adults have out-dated views of what an agricultural or horticultural career involves. That’s something we want to change. We need dedicated young minds to help the food industry evolve – as it becomes more efficient, more sustainable and more secure.

Working the land

Learning about working life

That’s why we’ve launched an apprenticeship scheme with Reaseheath College, a specialist land-based college in Cheshire.

Under the new scheme, 12 people take a year long Level 2 Diploma in either agriculture or horticulture. To learn about life in the workplace, they visit our farmers and growers – and get a week’s work experience with one of our suppliers.

The digital apprentice

They will follow in the footsteps of young people like Liam Walker, who worked as an apprentice for Cornerways Nursery – a Sainsbury’s tomato supplier in Norfolk – in an earlier version of the scheme.

Liam hadn’t considered growing tomatoes as a career – but was surprised what it involved, such as learning how to run a business and to market products.

“I’ve been using my digital skills more than I expected,” says Liam, “for example, to control the glasshouse through a modern computer system. A lot of people my age don’t realise how varied roles in this sector are.”

Liam Walker
A former apprentice at Cornerways Nursery, one of our tomato suppliers

At the end of the course, they then get a guaranteed interview to become an apprentice at one of the farmers or growers who supply us.


people joined our agriculture and horticulture apprenticeship scheme in 2016