We tailor our training and development programmes to meet the needs of the individual, their team and the operating business. The SSP Academy, our web-based learning management system, offers over 6000 training programmes and has over 10,000 active users across the Group. Some of our training programmes for Unit Managers and above are aligned to universities, giving our colleagues the opportunity to achieve an externally-recognised qualification at the end of their training. In the UK, our affiliation with Coventry University gives colleagues the opportunity to eventually attain an SSP bespoke foundation degree in leadership. Our retention rate on programme is currently 93%, demonstrating how these development activities support the engagement and retention of great talent within our business.
Our apprenticeship programmes operate in our UK and in many of our European businesses. In 2015, we were pleased to see that 60 people completed scheme in Germany, and in the UK, 243 apprentices completed their qualification and received their certificates. In the year ahead, we will be launching a Chef apprenticeship programme, responding to the current national skills shortage in the UK and creating a pipeline for qualified chefs for the business. We continue to monitor the progress of the UK government’s review of national apprenticeship schemes and remain committed to offering apprenticeships and delivering high quality training to our colleagues.
As part of our recruitment strategy, we work with community groups to bring young people from disadvantaged communities into the workplace, providing them with pre-employment training, work experience and permanent jobs. In the UK, we work with organisations like the Princes Trust and the Kings Cross Partnership to help young people in the communities close to our key air and rail locations to find careers. We have been pleased to see many of the young people who join SSP starting to make successful careers.
Similar programmes operate across the Group, for example, in France, we set targets for the proportion of new recruits which should come from deprived communities and we have established a partnership with Ecole de La 2ème Chance to support people returning to work with training and development.
In China, we are working with the China Development Foundation to give work experience to young people from rural areas. The project focuses on bridging the rural/urban divide within China by bringing children from the countryside into cities for the first time, so that they can understand more about the opportunities available to them. SSP has been hosting vocational training for groups of children within our units at Shanghai Pudong airport, and we are looking at establishing a similar programme in Beijing.