The number of new apprentices starting in the first six months of the FDF pledge reached 1,654 – nearly half the overall target of 3,400, according to the latest data from the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) and the sector skills council Improve.
The new apprenticeships filled a wide range of roles, from production-related jobs, such as new product development and engineering, to commercial functions, such as finance and human resources.
The FDF’s apprenticeship pledge was launched last year in England and Wales to “build a pool of talented apprentices that can be developed and deployed across the sector – building skills for the future and enabling the industry to meet its ambition to grow 20% by 2020”.
The pledge was delivered in partnership with the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink and NAS.
Angela Coleshill, FDF director of competitiveness, said: “We strongly believe that apprenticeships are a fantastic way of attracting talent for the future and of bringing many benefits to our businesses, including increased productivity, improved competitiveness and a motivated workforce.
“By recruiting new apprentices and upskilling our existing employees, we are ensuring our sector has the right skills now and in the future.”
The FDF is running a series of roadshows across the country for food and drink businesses to raise awareness of the benefits of apprenticeships. The next Apprenticeship Roadshow will take place in Preston on July 5.
Earlier this week (May 21), Labour leader Ed Miliband slammed what he described as "snobbery” against people who choose vocational qualifications rather than a university degree.
Miliband told a conference organised by the Sutton Trust, which promotes opportunities for youngsters from underprivileged backgrounds, it was important to "celebrate” vocational qualifications such as apprenticeships.
“Ministers should show as much respect for young people whose skills secure them an apprenticeship as those who win places at university,” he said.
Miliband described tackling social mobility as “a huge mountain to climb”.
To read about Kraft’s pledge to hire more than 50 food manufacturing apprentices this year, click here .