The firm made the promise during a visit to its Sheffield factory by David Blunkett, Labour MP for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough and former home secretary. Kraft promised to recruit six apprentices for the site.
Blunkett said: “The restarting of the apprenticeship programme is extremely encouraging as it offers hope to young people and indicates Kraft's long-term commitment to Sheffield.
“Many of my constituents depend for their family income on the company and I’m very pleased to make a return visit to see for myself what developments are taking shape.”
A Kraft spokeswoman told FoodManufacture.co.uk that the firm is committed to apprenticeships across all of its UK and Irish sites beyond 2012 but cannot comment on specific details until later this year.
Apprentices now account for nearly 2% of Kraft’s manufacturing workforce in the UK and Ireland. It currently has 48 apprentices across its UK and Irish sites, she added.
Last year the firm recruited four apprentices to work at its Sheffield factory – which produces gums and confectionery, including the Trebor, Maynards and Bassetts btands.
Blunkett praised the £6M investment in the factory announced by Kraft at the end of last year, which, he said, would secure its future and the jobs that depend on it. “I’m very pleased and relieved that Kraft has fulfilled their pledge to me,” he said.
Kraft’s investment in a new biscuit line enabled the US-based firm to produce biscuits – including the Oreo and Belvita brands – in the UK for the first time.
Angela Coleshill, Food and Drink Federation (FDF) director of competitiveness, told FoodManufacture.co.uk: apprenticeships will be a key mechanism for the industry to attract talent in the future.
137,000 new recruits
They will help to recruit and train some of the 137,000 new recruits the sector will need over the next five years, she added.
“The future sustainability of the food industry is highly dependent on the skills of its workforce and its ability to innovate,” said Coleshill.
“We firmly believe that apprenticeships are a fantastic way of attracting talent for the future and bring many benefits to businesses including increased competitiveness, improved productivity and a motivated workforce.”
The FDF has invited its members to sign its Apprenticeship Pledge. Firms that take the pledge promise to double the number of apprentices in the sector by the end of 2012. This will help the industry “build a pool of talented apprentices that can be developed and deployed across the industry – building skills for the future”, she added.
To watch our video interview, filmed at Foodex, with Kraft apprentice Sam Richards, about how food manufacturers should attract young employees, click here .