In this exclusive video interview, filmed at McCains’ Peterborough factory last week, Angela Coleshill, FDF director employment and skills, said: “Individual companies are excellent at reaching out to young people to try to fill their skills gap.
“But when you see companies that are hugely competitive working together and that being celebrated by government, that is a real achievement.”
Fair share of new recruits
Even more collaboration to ensure the sector won its fair share of new recruits – who could be attracted to more alluring careers in the aerospace and automotive sectors – was essential, she added.
Participation in the government’s Trailblazers scheme was also another important step for the industry. The food and drink sector was one of eight sectors nominated by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills last year to pioneer new standards for apprenticeships.
“We were delighted to be invited to join the Trailblazers – albeit late in the day. It’s really significant in that it raises bar in terms of apprenticeships and share best practice,” said Coleshill.
The new standard – to be launched at the end of this year, with backing from the Institution of Engineering and Technology and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers – is designed to create a pipeline of specialist food and drink industry engineers to drive innovation.
Food and drink manufacturers need to attract about 170,000 new recruits in the next six years to make good the skills shortfall.
McCains employs 13 apprentices
McCains employs 13 apprentices who are taking part in its engineering maintenance technician apprenticeship scheme.
Apprentices are involved in a variety of engineering maintenance roles and can explore their interests in mechanical or electrical work.
“Our apprenticeship programme equips students with the right education, skills and experience to enable them to progress successfully in their engineering careers,” said a McCain’s spokeswoman.
National Apprenticeship Week ended on Friday March 7.
Don’t miss our exclusive video interview with George Eustice, food and farming minister, who claimed “a fresh approach” was needed to attract more young people into the sector.
Meanwhile, plugging the skills gap in food and drink manufacturing will be one of four free-to-attend Big Video Debates at Foodex, to be staged at the National Exhibition Centre, near Birmingham between March 24 and March 26. The other free debates will focus on social media, lessons learnt from the horsemeat crisis and lean manufacturing.