The programme is part of a strategic move to attract some of the best talent for the Co-operative Group's graduate scheme. The NCWE's Quality Mark (QM) board has endorsed the proposed programme, pending full accreditation in one year's time when it has completed a full cycle.
Hannah Slaney, group graduate programme manager at the Co-operative Group, explains: "Despite the recession, we have a strong desire to continue to develop and recruit young people. We strive to ensure our placement scheme is market-leading to help strengthen our position as one of the best places to work and so wanted to use the QM to help us create a quality programme from scratch, getting it spot-on right from the start.
"Our aim is to further develop the region's future workforce to the highest of standards as well as create a pipeline of talented candidates for our 2011 graduate intake. We hope that if students enjoy their experiences and we're impressed by the impact they make, they'll join us post-graduation."
The NCWE Quality Mark evaluates all aspects of a work experience programme against six key areas, including commitment, recruitment and evaluation. It raises standards, providing employers with the opportunity to benchmark their current programme, share best practice across industry sectors as well as take a more strategic view of their relationships within higher education.