Boots will launch a new sponsored degree apprenticeship programme that gives workers the chance to obtain a degree in a bid to find the next generation of executives, store managers and accountants.

The Nottingham-based pharmacy firm will offer a supportive work environment that allows staff to access to further study and qualifications when the new scheme begins in September.

It believes career development opportunities will help bring more young people into the workplace and will run the project alongside its existing apprenticeship and work experience programmes.

Jenny Brown, head of learning and development at Boots UK, said: "Our apprentices are really important at Boots UK.

"These exciting and inspiring young people are our next generation of marketers, accountants, dispensers, store managers and executives, so supporting their early careers and offering the option to pursue further education should they wish to, is fundamental.

They can undertake BA (Hons) degree in management and leadership, supported by the Chartered Management Institute.

Ms Brown added: "We are continually impressed by the fresh insights, passion, and enthusiasm that all of our apprentices bring to the business and have always been keen to support them in their further education.

"Often apprenticeships are thought of as an alternative route into the workplace to doing an undergraduate degree, so we're really excited to offer this brand new programme, demonstrating that the two aren't mutually exclusive."

Rowan Pickles, who is currently a future leader apprentice working as a design and delivery assistant in the apprenticeships and access to work team at Boots, said: "As an apprentice, this move from Boots UK to offer degree level education as part of the future leaders programme is really exciting.

"I'm really confident that this career route was definitely the right choice for me. I'll graduate with a permanent job at a company I love, without the same tuition fee debts that my friends will have, and I'll have been paid a full salary throughout the process."

Petra Wilton, Chartered Management Institute's director of external affairs, added: "Investment in the next generation of managers has been shown to be more than repaid by the productivity gains they deliver.

"This chartered manager degree apprenticeship offers not only a degree but on-the-job experience and a pathway to chartered manager status helping to create a pipeline of true management professionals who will deliver both early impact and a sustained return on the investment Boots UK is making."