With the help of industry, the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink (NSAFD) is continuing to develop Packaging Professional – a new degree-level apprenticeship standard. The move has been welcomed by the industry.
“There is a severe shortage of people with the necessary skills in packaging,” said Bruce Funnell, head of packaging for confectionery at Nestlé’s Product Technology Centre. “There just aren’t enough of them coming through the education system. This is partly because packaging is not seen as a career of choice.
‘Not seen as a career of choice’
“Secondly, the packaging roles of today require a very broad skillset,” he added, pointing out that this was reflected in the new industry apprenticeship standard.
The standard has been worked on by an industry group chaired by Funnell, and including Premier Foods, Bakkavor and Fera Science.
“Indicative numbers suggest a sustainable cohort for the next three years for one and potentially two universities,” Funnell said. Courses could start as early as next January, he added.
In the past, courses have struggled to attract sufficient students. Because this standard was designed by employers rather than educationalists, however, it was likely to be more successful, claimed NSAFD chief executive Justine Fosh. “This is a collaborative approach to build sustainable delivery,” she said.
Another new element was Apprenticeship Levy funding – “if companies don’t use their levy, they lose the money,” Fosh added.
Graham Bonwick, lead scientist at Fera Science, said: “We need people with a rounded understanding of packaging, who grasp the implications of a certain design and are aware of the business aspects, too.”
Bonwick previously helped to set up a Continuing Professional Development food packaging course at Newcastle University, which is launching this month.