Harnessing the power of food manufacturing apprenticeships

By Peter Booth

- Last updated on GMT

Young apprentices can generate a wealth of change within the workplace
Young apprentices can generate a wealth of change within the workplace

Related tags Young people Food manufacturing excellence Apprenticeship

By choosing the right apprenticeship framework and with appropriate training and guidance, young apprentices can facilitate a change in workplace culture helping to lock-in and sustain continuous improvements, providing a valuable resource for the future.

UK businesses are increasingly realising the enormous value that young apprenticeships can add, with extensive research concluding they are an optimal way of training, developing and skilling people for the future. New data from research company ICM reveals that 54% of young people in England would choose to do an apprenticeship if one were available.

The increasing popularity of apprenticeships among young people comes after previous business research, released earlier this year, showed that employers find apprentices 15% more employable than young people with other qualifications.

Unfortunately, the management of, commitment to and cost involved in setting up a comprehensive and effective young apprenticeship training programme, coupled with sweeping negative preconceptions, can prevent many businesses from capitalising on a valuable underutilised resource.

Succession planning

Yet with an ageing workforce in food manufacturing, succession planning has revealed the industry vitally needs to build skills for the future. We will need to replace 30% of our workforce by 2017 as employees enter retirement or leave the industry. But there is not a sufficient pipeline of young people that could potentially be engineers, team leaders or managers of the future.

Partnering with the right training provider, that fully understands the culture and strategic vision of your organisation and is able to invest time embedding trainers within your team, can ease that initial fear.

An experienced, accomplished provider will deliver appropriate and extensive training programmes tailored to the business that will create a talent pool of potential future managers – an absolute priority in an industry renowned for high employee turnover. Moreover, it will encourage young apprentices to take ownership of ideas and problem solving, promote communication and bring about sustainable improvements that will significantly contribute towards growth while bringing about a profound change in culture across the workforce.

Choosing the right apprenticeship framework that reflects business needs and can be part of your workforce strategy will fall under the guidance of your training provider that will have access to applicable funding. The new Food Manufacturing Excellence (FME) qualification is one of the few that benefits both the individual who achieves the qualification and the business that sponsors it. It embraces a philosophy of continuous improvement and culture change to add value throughout the production process.

Lean manufacturing techniques

The qualification takes a minimum of a year of on-the-job training and encompasses lean manufacturing techniques and workplace culture change. It was specifically designed for the food industry by Improve, the sector skills council for UK food and drink manufacturing, following identification of an industry need by its sister organisation, the National Skills Academy for Food & Drink (NSAFD).

Given the significant decline in university applications, combined with youth unemployment falling just shy of 1M and recent government legislation to keep all 16–18 year olds in education, there is a growing awareness among this age group of the value provided by learning skills on the job.

Young apprenticeships can be far more suitable for many than going to school, college or university where the outcome does not necessarily guarantee a job. Having the ability to undertake training in the workplace and to quickly progress their careers without the burden of onerous debts and an ongoing search for employment is particularly relevant in the current economic climate.        

With an evident skills gap in the industry and the need for succession planning, there is no better time to consider young apprenticeships and the ongoing benefits they can bring to you business. They can, if delivered by the right commercially minded partner, form the foundations upon which future success is built.

  • Peter Booth is md of business improvement consultancy CQM Training & Consultancy, which specialises in continuous improvement. The business is an appointed champion delivery provider of lean food manufacturing excellence by the NSAFD. Details of e-learning training courses offered by FoodManufacture.co.uk’s publisher, William Reed Business Media are available here​.

Related news

Show more