He said one of the main purposes of the soft drinks manufacturer’s education centres, which are equipped with interactive classrooms, is to give young people a better understanding of the importance of food manufacturing to the UK economy and to encourage more to take up careers in the sector.
“We recognise that our prosperity is inextricably linked to the prosperity of our communities,” said Baldry (pictured, right).
“Unless we have healthy, growing sustainable communities we are not going to build a healthy business ourselves … it’s not totally philanthropic, we want to attract the best possible talent, and so therefore to encourage people to come in and see us and to be interested in coming back to talk to us when they become graduates or when they want to come and join our production lines.”
CCE employs around 4,500 people at 22 sites across the UK. It runs education centres at its plants in East Kilbride, Edmonton and Wakefield, in addition to the new centre at its Sidcup factory in Kent, opened at a cost of £750,000 as part of its Olympic legacy programme.
The Sidcup site is a world class manufacturing facility, employing 370 highly skilled people, according to its operations director Steve Adams. “We are also about bringing young talent into the organisation,” he added. “We are very proud of our graduate programme, but probably especially Sidcup is also known for its apprenticeship programme … which is very close to my heart.”
All of CCE’s education centres are run by teachers employed by the company who are registered with the General Teaching Council. The centres will support the teaching of business studies, science, ICT, engineering, and design and technology.
“The modules they teach are directly linked to the schools’ curriculum,” Baldry said. “This helps students make connections between what they learn in the classroom and the real life business experiences that we deal with, day in, day out.”
Real business challenge
CCE also operates a national competition called the Real Business Challenge to help students hone their business skills by providing an opportunity to be involved with education about running a business.
The Sidcup education centre is expected to host about 200 visits a year, reaching about 4,000 local students in total. This will bring to 40,000 the number of students passing through all four centres each year and those involved in CCE’s Real Business Challenge.
“As well as providing jobs for thousands of people in our business, we also recognise we must make an important contribution towards the way that investment in education takes place at a local level,” Baldry said.
“Through our education centres, such as this one in Sidcup, we provide students with the opportunity to find out what modern-day manufacturing is all about … We know, few of them really have a grasp of what it means to be in manufacturing and to understand our world.”
Another reason for opening the centres, Baldry added, was to help dispel some of the myths that exist about modern food manufacturing.