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Tesco to hire 20,000 customer service staff over two years

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Tesco is to create 20,000 new jobs in the UK over the next two years through a “significant investment” in customer service, refreshing existing stores and opening new ones.

Tesco plans to deliver new levels of excellence in customer service across its stores. Starting immediately, Britain's top retailer will invest in additional staff hours and training to boost the customer experience - including on fresh produce, fresh meat, bakery and the counter services that customers value the most.

The new jobs announced this morning, also reflects a substantial programme to refresh existing stores, improving space and layout and the overall shopping experience, as well as opening new stores.

Tesco expects to focus on giving opportunities to young people currently unemployed. As well as providing a first rung on the career ladder for each individual, this move will be a major step in tackling the current record levels of youth unemployment.

Tesco will also give young people the opportunity to carry on learning by expanding its apprenticeship programme to provide 10,000 apprenticeships, with a significant proportion for new starters.

These announcements are the first stage in Tesco's planned new investment in the UK business.

Welcoming the announcement of jobs and investment, prime minister David Cameron said: "This is a massive confidence boost for the UK economy. Tesco is one of the world's leading companies and the biggest private sector employer in this country. Their commitment to creating jobs and opportunities for young people at what is a difficult time for the economy is fantastic news for the UK as a whole and for those people they will help into work."

Tesco's UK CEO Richard Brasher added: "In unprecedented economic conditions like these, major businesses have a big responsibility to step forward, invest and create jobs. Today's announcement is a huge shot in the arm for the UK economy.

"At the core of this investment is our determination to deliver the best shopping experience for our customers, bar none. We will invest in more staff on the sales floor at busy times, greater expertise and help in the crucial areas of fresh food, and enhanced quality and service across our stores at all times.

"To deliver this we're going to strengthen our customer service team - 20,000 more staff across our stores over the next two years.

"With youth unemployment at record levels, we're determined to target many of our new jobs at young people currently out of work - so that in this difficult jobs market those who need help the most will get it.

"Our investment is a win-win for customers, unemployed young people and the UK economy as a whole."

Tesco is the country's largest private sector employer with over 290,000 staff, and 70,000 young people under the age of 25 - a quarter of its workforce.