2 Sisters boss welcomes new apprentice plan

By Mike Stones

- Last updated on GMT

DEFRA chief Andrea Leadsom joined the 2 Sisters boss in welcoming the new apprenticeship programme
DEFRA chief Andrea Leadsom joined the 2 Sisters boss in welcoming the new apprenticeship programme

Related tags Training Apprenticeship

The new Industry Approved Apprenticeship Programmes (IAAP) for the food and drink industry “puts employers in the driving seat with regards to standards”, says 2 Sisters Food Group’s people and change director Nigel Perry.

Welcoming the new initiative, co-ordinated by the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink, Perry underlined the urgent need to boost the sector’s recruitment.

“2 Sisters, like so many colleagues in the food industry, has been concerned about the future pipeline of skills and talent,”​ said Perry. “We are aware that if we don’t do something different, we will continue to compete for an ever diminishing pool of talent.”

The 10 IAAP schemes spanning key skills shortage areas including: engineering, food science, operations management and bakery were launched at a reception in the House of Commons last month.

Designed by the industry

Each apprenticeship programme has been designed by the industry and contains an approved qualification either a new qualification designed for the apprenticeship, or a degree subject to an assessment process.

Perry said the new initiative promised a big improvement on the old system. “The new model allows us ​[food and drink manufacturers] to be in the driving seat when it comes to skills development, based on the needs of our business. We have never before been so involved in this process.”

While previous training programmes had involved consultation with employers, their views had sometimes not proved a key determinant of training courses, he added. “The training qualifications and provision had mostly been driven by providers delivering set programmes, with varying degrees of quality, relevance and effectiveness.”

‘Varying degrees of quality’

The IAAP progammes were also welcomed by environment secretary Andrea Leadsom. Developing apprenticeships will be one of her top priorities, said Leadsom at the launch in her first speech since taking over the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

“Apprenticeships not only transform lives but also give our country the highly skilled workforce it needs to flourish,”​ said Leadsom.

“I welcome these new Industry Approved Apprenticeship courses that have the backing of leading awarding bodies. They illustrate perfectly what can happen when employers and the sector work together.

“We need these skilled people ready to take up jobs in areas like food science and engineering. That is why DEFRA has committed to trebling food and farming apprenticeships by 2020.”

Meanwhile, Leadsom believed Brexit will make the new apprenticeship plan even more important​.

Related topics People & Skills Chilled foods

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