HALFORDS is to recruit 600 new trainees over the next year in a scheme aimed at unemployed young people.

The motoring and cycling firm, which has stores across Essex, said it aims to have a trainee in most of its stores across the UK, teaching them skills and preparing them for work.

The eight-week placements will be open to 16 to 24-year-olds who are unemployed or not involved in education or training.

Halfords’ people director Jonathan Crookall said: “We wanted to go above and beyond the usual apprenticeship model, and by offering pre-employment training to our candidates – we’re raising the bar for training in the retail industry.

“We will train 600 trainees across Halfords in the next year and see huge potential for the programme in preparing young people for work and a bright new talent into the industry.”

Employment Minister Priti Patel said: “At a time when we have record employment in the UK, traineeships not only provide life changing opportunities for young people, but they also deliver brilliant results for business.

“This is why it is great to see a major retailer like Halfords make a real commitment to traineeships by not only running the programme, but increasing the number of places it has offered.”