Supermarket chain Morrisons has announced that it will be embarking on a new training scheme and aims to train some 18,000 employees in its first year.

The programme will see the creation of over 5,000 jobs during 2009 in what the company describes as "part of its continuing programme of store space expansion".

It has set up a new Fresh Food Academy that Morrisons suggests offers employees "a clear and direct path to progress throughout the organisation".

Norman Pickavance, group HR director for Morrisons said: "Even in these challenging economic conditions, Morrisons is committed to hiring and training new people to keep retail as the engine room of the economy and support our continuing growth."

Mr Pickavance said that the supermarket chain offered its employees more than a job, but were offering its staff "real careers".

Morrison’s Fresh Food Academy comprises a retail certificate, NVQ Level Two in retail and full apprenticeships for butchers, bakers and fishmongers.