Foodex 2016

Food firms should ‘do more to back apprentices’

By Michael Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food and drink Apprenticeship 2 sisters food group

Food and drink manufacturers should do more to help apprentices find work in the sector, according to Jon Poole, chief executive of the Institute of Food Science & Technology (IFST).

“We focus so much on promoting the food sector to young people, when actually it’s very difficult for them to find apprenticeships of any form,”​ the IFST boss told Food Manufacture's Big Video Debate on apprenticeships at Foodex last month.

“The food industry should do more to get employers offering apprenticeships, if they are going to be successful,​ Poole told the audience. A key factor was providing a platform for students to find those apprenticeships.

Also taking part in the filmed panel discussion were: Janette Graham, group technical learning and development manager at 2 Sisters Food Group, Justine Fosh, chief executive at the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink (NSAFD) and Sam Higginson, student.

Here, we capture the video highlights of the debate.

2 Sisters boss

The 2 Sisters boss identified a key role for large-scale manufacturers. “Apprentices play an important part but not the only part. We really need to drive it forward as an employer,​said Graham.

​Particularly large employers need to drive apprenticeships because they have helped develop the apprenticeship programmes. So, they need to be connected to delivering it.​ 

The NSAFD chief executive said apprenticeships “absolutely have a role to play​, ​both attracting future talent and up-skilling the existing workforce.​ 

‘Admired and wanted’

“The key is that apprenticeships have got to be respected by the industry and admired and wanted to be undertaken by young people to be really credible,​said Fosh.“And the more businesses get involved, the better those apprenticeships will be.

Higginson also highlighted the respect apprenticeships needed to command. “It is about reaching out to ​[to a new generation of young talent], not just with degree programmes but with formal apprenticeships.

The Big Video Debate on apprenticeships took place at Foodex on Tuesday, April 19. Don't miss our exclusive video interview​ with the 2 Sisters Food boss on how apprentices contribute to the manufacturer's business.

Other Big Video Debates​ taking place at Foodex focused the battle to control Britain's number one cause of food poisoning​, campylobacter, and how best to protect your food or drink business​ against criminals.

Foodex took place at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham between April 18 and 19. 

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