Industry Skills Partnership backed by £3M boost

By Rod Addy contact

- Last updated on GMT

Fosh: 'designing and driving forward the future skills agenda'
Fosh: 'designing and driving forward the future skills agenda'

Related tags: Food industry

The government is pumping £2M into the launch of a new partnership designed to deliver food industry recruits in England with practical, competitive skills that will satisfy employers.

The Industry Skills Partnership would place employers firmly in the driving seat when it came to developing the future workforce and driving growth. That’s according to the National Skills Academy for Food & Drink, which is also putting £1M behind the venture.

The initiative would see top executives from businesses including Thorntons, Nestlé, Premier Foods, Britvic, 2 Sisters Food Group and Arla Foods collaborating with trade groups and retailers to design effective employee training.

The funding follows a successful bid by the industry as part of the government’s Employer Ownership of Skills initiative.

“Food and drink processing now employs more than 300,000 people in England alone,”​ said skills minister Nick Boles. “This new partnership will allow the industry to develop the skills and talent it needs to grow and compete on the global stage.


“We are committed to putting employers in the driving seat when it comes to skills so they can address the specific challenges facing their businesses.”

Jonathan Hart, ceo of Thorntons, which took a lead role in the consortium of businesses behind the bid, called the initiative’s launch “an historic day for the food industry”​.

“For too long we have been regarded as a ‘sector of sectors’ spread across areas such as bakery, beverages, confectionery, dairy, meat and seafish – yet we all share similar skills shortages and training and recruitment gaps,”​ said Hart.

“The truth is we are one industry. Through the Industry Skills Partnership, we can unlock the enormous potential to accelerate our own individual commercial success and enhance the industry’s position as a major contributor to the country’s long-term economic fortunes.”


Fiona Kendrick, chairman and ceo of Nestlé UK and Ireland, also welcomed the investment. “Through industry-wide collaboration, we can now solve the skills challenges we all share and exert far greater collective influence on the skills system supporting talent growth in the sector,”​ she said.

Justine Fosh, ceo of the National Skills Academy (NSA) for Food & Drink, which facilitated the pan-sector bid and aimed to support the Industry Skills Partnership, said: “We look forward to welcoming active participation from business leaders representing every corner and facet of the industry … in designing and driving forward the future skills agenda on which the future of the industry depends.”

Melanie Leech, director general of the Food and Drink Federation, said: “The future success of the UK’s largest manufacturing sector depends on our ability to secure a pipeline of talented individuals.

“With 170,300 vacancies expected between 2010 and 2020 across a variety of job roles, I am delighted with the success in securing the Industrial Skills partnership.”

The initiative would complement existing initiatives such as the new Masters degree in Food Engineering and Centre of Excellence at Sheffield Hallam University, she said.

Big issues

The partnership aims to tackle big industry issues such as:

  • Making the sector more attractive to job seekers by providing careers advice to 5,000 young people
  • Supporting the introduction of new Trailblazer Apprenticeship standards relevant to food industry roles with 10 new apprenticeship standards
  • Helping to fill 500 vacancies and address a chronic shortage of food scientists and production engineers with knowledge and experience of the food industry by matching employers with recruits
  • Improving technical skills across the sector
  • Developing industry-accredited quality standards (kitemarks) for training provision for training providers and training courses
  • Designing and developing training programmes relevant to modern industry needs
  • Agreeing the sector’s training priorities and innovative programmes to be supported by the investment

Related topics: People & Skills, Services

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