Staff at Asda will be given the chance to study for a degree in retail and distribution after a partnership was agreed with Middlesex University.
The BA programme will take three years to complete and be made available to 30 employees while they also maintain their paid position in-store.
The scheme is being brought in this year after a pilot was run in 2012. It involves 12 days of classroom workshops, work-based assessments, online study and peer networking as students learn about merchandising, the retail environment as a whole, managing and developing people, and how to use retail operations to maximise a profit.
On the distribution course the employees will complete modules in supply chain management and logistics.
Alongside the theoretical work, students will also undertake learning projects relevant to Asda, personal development planning and off-site studying.
Hayley Tatum, executive people director at the supermarket, said that the current economic climate, coupled with the spiralling costs of higher education, means that many colleagues at Asda have missed out on university degrees.
"By providing the opportunity to study for a degree, we hope that we can open more doors for our colleagues, developing their skills for the future. Through the programme, we hope to create a pool of home-grown talent, the future leaders of Asda," she added.
The move from Asda has been praised by the CBI, with director of employment and skills Neil Carberry telling TheGrocer.co.uk that this kind of approach is one which other industries should look at following too.
"It sends a clear message that major employers should work with universities to give staff top-level skills for their whole career, not just their current job. Higher tuition loans means people are getting far more savvy in looking for firms which give great on-the-job training and long-term prospects, without getting into debt," he told the source.
Supermarkets have led the way in the past through their management training programmes, as they look to ensure that they are able to keep hold of and develop their most talented young members of staff.