FDF supports government skills push

By Rod Addy contact

- Last updated on GMT

Vince Cable with young talent from Arla Foods's Stourton dairy
Vince Cable with young talent from Arla Foods's Stourton dairy

Related tags: Vocational education, Apprenticeship

The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has praised the government’s new skills campaign, highlighting the positive impact apprenticeships have had on preparing new recruits for food industry careers.

Responding to the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills’s (BIS’s) launch of its ‘Get In. Go Far’ apprenticeships drive, FDF competitiveness policy manager Caroline Keohane said: “There is no doubt that skills are the driving force to a successful industry, and the government’s campaign highlights the importance of skilled apprentices to employers right across the country.

 “At FDF, we recognise that growing our industry’s talent pool through apprenticeships is a key priority for food and drink manufacturers. That is why our sector committed to double the number of apprenticeships within food and drink manufacturing in 2011/12, but we in fact smashed this target by quadrupling apprenticeships …

“… Companies who employ apprentices gain a valuable staff member with the talent to make a difference to the business. The apprentice gains the confidence, ambition and sense of value which goes hand-in-hand with earning a recognised qualification, inspiring loyalty and the drive to take their career in food and drink further.”

Trailblazers

The food and drink industry was chosen as one of the first eight sectors to take part in BIS’s Trailblazers initiative to develop the first ever apprenticeship standard for Food and Drink Engineering.

Business Secretary Vince Cable visited Arla Foods’s Leeds dairy at Stourton on August 20 to witness how food industry apprenticeships and dairy training scheme Project Eden were helping the company.

“For too long there has been a divide between university and vocational education which has been damaging for both employers and young people,”​ said Cable. “Placing university degrees and apprenticeships on an equal footing will help to break down barriers and better meet the needs of business.”

Project Eden allows young people to study either for a Foundation Degree in Dairy Technology or a Level 3 Apprenticeship in Dairy Engineering. Courses are supported by Reaseheath College in Cheshire, and some of the top students each year get the opportunity to study for an MSc in Dairy Science and Technology in Copenhagen.

‘Offered a permanent role’

Emma Wood, who had recently completed the dairy technology qualification within Project Eden after pursuing a Level 3 Apprenticeship through it, said: “The course is varied, as we learnt everything from food safety to project management, and it’s great to learn both on-site and in the classroom. Following my training, I was offered a permanent role at Arla.”​ 

Annette Barber, vice president of human resources at Arla Foods UK, added: “Dairy is a unique business and requires specialist skills, which is why it’s crucial that our apprentices gain a depth of technical education and practical knowledge to meet our high quality standards.

“Where possible, we recruit from the areas local to our sites, and importantly, all our schemes are paid, enabling young people to earn while they learn.”

For more information on the latest jobs across the food and drink industry, visit FoodManJobs​.

Related topics: Dairy, People & Skills

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