Food firms commit to National Apprenticeship Week

By John Wood

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Vocational education

Skills minister Nick Boles experienced the sharp end of food manufacturing during his visit to Nestlé's York site
Skills minister Nick Boles experienced the sharp end of food manufacturing during his visit to Nestlé's York site
Food companies have made a major commitment to National Apprenticeship Week as they try to address a looming skills shortage in the sector.

Nestlé’s York site hosted the launch of the week by skills minister Nick Boles on Monday (March 14).

With half of the food and drink sector’s current workforce due to retire in the next two decades, the company sees apprenticeships as a vital way to invest in new talent.

Nestlé has been offering apprenticeships for more than 55 years across a wide range of functions including commercial and technical. There are currently 146 apprentices within the organisation.

This year, it will recruit at least 65 apprentices, including 12 chartered manager degree apprentices, across seven factory sites and its two head offices.

3M apprenticeships

After meeting apprentices on a tour of the KitKat factory, the minister said: “Apprenticeships really can take you anywhere. That’s why we are joining forces with businesses across the country to create 3M apprenticeships by 2020.

“Whether it’s cutting-edge engineering or producing the latest chocolate bar, Nestlé are offering young people their big break with an apprenticeship.

Following Boles’s visit, Nestlé is running a skills week where current apprentices will share their experiences at school visits and career fairs to give students a clear overview of the opportunities that exist.

Nestlé’s senior factory managers will also be going back to the shop floor to shadow apprentices and offer support and career coaching.

Britvic is another food company committed to the concept, and since the launch of its apprenticeship scheme in 2010, it has offered all graduate apprentices full-time positions with the company.

Graduating from the scheme

Britvic’s four-year apprenticeship scheme provides training and support from the business, combining a mixture of study and on-the-job training. Apprentices are educated to the highest National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) levels, with each graduating from the scheme with at least an NVQ Level 3 qualification.

This year Britvic has also launched ‘Career Inspiration Days’ across its sites. The days are designed to inspire talented young people by giving them a real ‘world of work’ experience with a particular focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) roles.

Clive Hooper, Britvic’s GB and Ireland operations director, commented: “Skilled electrical and mechanical engineers are at the heart of our business. Developing the skills of the next generation is crucial, and at Britvic we believe it is key to our continued success.

“National Apprenticeships Week is a timely reminder of the importance of apprenticeship schemes in addressing the skills shortage and supporting the growth of manufacturing in the UK.”

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