Food manufacturers smash apprenticeship targets

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Apprenticeship Sheffield hallam university Sector skills councils

The FDF’s apprenticeship pledge has succeeded in trebling the number of apprentices
The FDF’s apprenticeship pledge has succeeded in trebling the number of apprentices
Food and drink manufacturers have smashed their targets for the number of apprenticeships across the industry.

The development was hailed this week (December 12) as a “brilliant”​ achievement by Owen Paterson MP, secretary of state at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), who gave the keynote address at the Food and Drink Federation’s (FDF’s) president’s reception.

The FDF’s apprenticeship pledge sought to double the number of apprentices​ by the end of 2012.

However, FDF president Jim Moseley, speaking at the London Marriott Hotel County Hall, said the number of apprenticeships had actually trebled.

The latest data from the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) and the sector skills council, Improve, showed that, since August 2011, there have been 5,281 apprenticeship starts in food and drink manufacturing businesses across the country. Apprenticeships now make up 1.3% of the overall food and drink manufacturing workforce – up from 0.4% in 2010/11.

Growth agenda

Paterson said apprenticeships were key to securing the FDF’s – and the government’s – growth agenda.

“As our largest manufacturing sector, the food and drink industry has a key role to play in helping DEFRA realise its twin ambitions of growing the economy and improving the environment. That’s why we are committed to working with the FDF to realise its vision of growth of 20% for the sector by 2020,”​ he said.

“Increasing skills and getting new people into the industry is vital, not just to this ambition but for the future of the sector as a whole. The doubling of the number of new apprenticeships in food and drink over the past year is a huge achievement and one of which the industry should be proud.”

Guests at the reception were also told that half of the work placements have been secured for the 40 students due to start the industry’s graduate excellence engineering degree course at Sheffield Hallam University in 2014.

Premier Foods

So far, 23 placements and other offers of support have been pledged by: Apetito, Arla Foods, Burton’s Biscuit Company, Cargill, Dalehead Foods, General Mills, Mars, Mondelēz, Nestlé, Premier Foods, United Biscuits, Warburtons and the William Jackson Food Group.

Graduate excellence will be the UK’s first dedicated food and drink engineering degree. It is currently being developed by the FDF in partnership with the National Skills Academy for food and drink and the university.

FDF president Jim Moseley, said: “Our apprenticeship pledge and graduate excellence programme are both key to attracting the talented individuals we need for the future, enabling us to achieve our joint vision with government to grow our sector 20% by 2020.

“Having so many great companies on-board, offering quality apprenticeships and work placements as part of the degree, is a sign of our industry’s commitment to support the next generation of skilled food and drink employees and to achieving our vision.”

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