Scottish first minister Alex Salmond has welcomed news that Dutch meat processor Vion is to create 250 new jobs at a new training centre at its Hall's plant in Broxburn, West Lothian.
"Securing 1250 jobs through the new Centre of Excellence at Hall's in Broxburn is fantastic news,” said Salmond. "I know that the West Lothian site was up against competition from elsewhere and securing the contract for the Centre of Excellence is also a major vote of confidence in Scottish training and learning.”
The centre will focus on improving business processes, strengthening the operation’s skills base and developing a ‘lean’ manufacturing culture, a Vion spokesman told FoodManufacture.co.uk.
Of the 250 new jobs at the site, 100 will be dedicated to apprenticeships – with most of those in operations, said the spokesman.
The centre will be based on Vion’s Lean Leadership Academy trialled in Suffolk.
In addition to creating new jobs, the investment will safeguard about 1,000 existing posts.
Vion’s investment at the site was supported by funds of £1,495M from Scottish Enterprise and up to £500,000 from Skills Development Scotland.
The firm's chief executive Ton Christiaanse said: “People are at the heart of our business and this announcement underlines our commitment to the development of our skills base.
“Partnerships are the basis for business success and we especially value the support and expertise of Scottish Enterprise and Skills Development Scotland. This investment not only demonstrates our confidence in the Hall’s site, but also in the Scottish pig farming sector who are key partner suppliers to our business.”
Vion said that its commitment to employee training is part of a long-standing commitment to improving its workers’ skills base. “This isn’t the first investment it’s part of an ongoing investment [in Vion’s workforce]. We’ve been doing so since the acquisition of Grampian foods in 2008 where one of the things was a declaration of commitment to people,” said the spokesman.
Damien Yeates, chief executive of Skills Development Scotland, said: “Vion is already a committed supporter of apprenticeships. Its plan to expand its involvement is a compelling endorsement of the Modern Apprenticeship model.
“We’re delighted to support their plans to employ and train people in West Lothian, giving staff the chance to get nationally recognised qualifications in a specialised skills.”
Flora McLean, director of the Scottish Food and Drink Federation, said: "As Scotland’s biggest manufacturing industry, the food and drink manufacturing sector employs almost 50,000 people directly, and many more elsewhere in the food chain.
"The announcement shows that the industry continues to deliver growth, and that manufacturers like Vion Food Group UK are investing in their workforce to sustain this growth into the future."