As part of the commitment the total apprenticeship workforce within the food and drink manufacturing sector would increase from 1% to 3%, the FDF’s president and ceo and chairman of Nestlé UK and Ireland Dame Fiona Kendrick told FDF’s annual president reception in London last night (December 2).
This builds on an existing pledge to increase the number of higher-level apprenticeships by 20% by 2017 and other sector-wide initiatives to address a looming skills shortage, The FDF said.
The target to grow value-added food and drink exports by a third would achieve a total value of £6bn by 2020, she claimed. Value-added exports for 2014 were 4.6bn, according to the FDF.
Total food and drink exports, including ingredients such as wheat and fish, were £12.8bn for 2014, it added.
Kendrick said increasing the number of apprenticeships and growing exports were “key ambitions” for the food and drink industry.
“We have made excellent progress against each of our strategic priorities this year and our new pledge is a significant commitment from Britain’s largest manufacturing sector to help drive up British productivity and economic growth,” she said.
Environment secretary Liz Truss welcomed the pledge which matched the government’s commitment to triple the number of food and farming apprenticeships.
“By championing the latest technology, building skills and creating jobs and apprenticeships we will create a stronger brand for British food and drink that will see more of our quality produce enjoyed at home and exported around the globe,” she said.
“We want to encourage even more young people to launch careers in our booming food and drinks industry and rise to the sector’s new challenges.”
The event was attended by food and drink manufacturers, MPs and other stakeholders, as well as guests of honour, Truss, and Sajid Javid, secretary of state for business, innovation and skills.
Javid said: “Food and drink is exciting in many ways and it’s a hugely important industry to our economy. That is why I want to make sure as government that we’re doing everything we possibly can to support it.”