The Food Manufacturing Excellence (FME) qualification is the first food and drink training course designed to drive continuous improvement across the workforce, said Derek Williams, development director at Improve, the sector skills council.
The FME is designed to be flexible, to cover the sector's wide range of technologies and notions of lean manufacturing, said Williams.
Companies can select people who are working on anything from a small improvement of production line efficiency to complete culture change within the workplace, he explained. All training partners can provide bespoke courses that could be institute or university accredited.
The qualification will be provided through the 70-plus members of the National Skills Academy (NSA), some of which have already started courses. Funding for 50% of the costs is available through the Joint Investment Programme (which has secured £2.2M from government) for firms willing to match public funding, said Justine Fosh, director of skills solutions for Improve and the NSA.
Value will have to come from productivity improvements more than ever because of the pressure emerging economies will put on UK manufacturers, said Jack Matthews, chief executive of Improve and the NSA.
The FME qualification was officially launched in March at the Attracting Talent and Increasing Productivity Conference, hosted by the NSA, Improve and the Food and Drink Federation.