The Food Skills Cymru funding package will launch on April 1 and will run until 2023. It is expected to support 650 businesses in the first three years.
Run by training and qualifications provider Lantra, the fund will include accredited and non-accredited training, as well as bespoke support for companies.
Food Skills Cymru will be available to all businesses in the food supply chain, excluding retailers.
Available to all businesses
The fund was revealed yesterday (February 8) by Welsh cabinet secretary for energy, planning and rural affairs Lesley Griffiths at the Invest in Skills: Invest in Growth conference at Venue Cymru in Llandudno, north Wales.
Griffiths said: “Our detailed action plan for the industry sets out our vision of growing the scale of the sector, strengthening its brand and markets, and doing all these things in a sustainable way. Central to this is the ability to attract and retain a talented workforce and drive up skills within the industry.
“This fund demonstrates our commitment to developing the skills of the industry and I am confident it can, and will, continue to grow to form an important backbone of the Welsh economy.”
During the conference, the Food & Drink Wales Industry Board launched a new skills strategy. Leading Welsh food firms, including Anglesey sea salt supplier Halen Môn, Bangor Mussel Producers and fresh vegetable company Puffin Produce, also signed up to a Welsh Skills pledge.
New skills strategy
As part of the pledge, the companies will commit to a range of actions, including sending company ambassadors into schools, hosting visits at their manufacturing sites and promoting career opportunities within their local communities.
This latest round of funding from the Welsh government comes almost a year after it launched a £21M programme to fund research into food and drink production, safeguarding thousands of jobs.
The programme, Project Helix, was designed to provide funding and support for small and medium-sized food manufacturers to help boost production and reduce food waste.
Meanwhile, testing and certification provider Bureau Veritas has urged food and drink manufacturers to improve training and monitoring to raise health and safety standards across the industry.