Food Sector Skills Council’s licence renewed

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags National skills academy Peter mandelson National skills academy for food

Improve has outlined its immediate priorities in the wake of winning government relicensing for an open-ended period under an expanded remit.Jack...

Improve has outlined its immediate priorities in the wake of winning government relicensing for an open-ended period under an expanded remit.

Jack Matthews, chief executive of the food and drink sector skills council (SSC), said: “We must focus on workforce development with employers, giving them the opportunity to focus on skills and training.”
He added that more attention needed to be paid to equipping potential recruits from other sectors. “We need to roll out a common currency of unit-based awards specifically to develop cross-industry recognition and the transfer of skills.”
Certain disciplines remained a more urgent focus than others, he said. “We are looking at extending our work in food science and technology and driving access further, and looking at higher skills in management and leadership, which are moving further up the agenda.”
Training to tackle sustainability issues related not just to the environment, but also food security was also an imperative. And Improve wanted to see more centres for the National Skills Academy for Food And Drink Manufacturing established in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, on top of those already established in England.
Paul Wilkinson, chairman of the food industry sector skills council, received a letter from the government’s Business Secretary Lord Peter Mandelson informing him of the government’s relicensing decision this month.
“We have been granted the relicence, which is open, so there’s no time that it’s bound to - we only had the last one for five years,” said Improve chief executive Jack Matthews. “That continuity is really needed.
“I had no concern or fear that Improve would not be able to demonstrate its success and therefore prove fit for purpose to deliver against the skills agenda.”
The government has committed to £1.9M of annual core funding for Improve as a result of the relicensing, plus additional access to project funding as required.
Matthews said Improve had driven the take up of 10,000 new vocational qualifications in the food and drink industry in the past year. 18,000 learners earned qualifications via the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink over the same period. And 111 new food science and technology programmes had been set up and 16 new learning centres had started offering them in the past 12 months.
In addition, Improve had raised £1.5M of funding from the government for 656 new Modern Apprenticeships - up from just 15 places a year ago.
Angela Coleshill, human resources director for the Food and Drink Federation, said: “We are proud that our SSC has been recognised for the quality of its delivery and see this decision as a real vote of confidence for its past achievements and plans for the future.”

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