opinion

Time to tackle the skills gap

By Bill Jermey

- Last updated on GMT

Bill Jermey explains the importance of apprenticeships
Bill Jermey explains the importance of apprenticeships
The skills and training world is changing rapidly, with the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy and new apprenticeship standards. Bill Jermey of the Food and Drink Training and Education Council discusses the opportunity apprenticeships provide.

The latest standard announced is for abattoir workers, where, for the first time, there will be a proper structure for apprentices. It will cover live animal handling, including the qualification needed under Welfare At Time of Killing [WATOK] regulations, and the storage of carcases or primals.

We’ve had to justify in detail to the Institute for Apprenticeships the costings for abattoir apprenticeships, in order to achieve the right training level. Even since we successfully argued for sensible funding levels for the butchery standards, craft skills have declined. It would be counterproductive if abattoir apprentices did not receive the funding industry and training providers need.

Our food and drink industries need this opportunity to tackle the potential skills gap caused by Brexit. Graduate trainees have often missed out on understanding the craft skills their businesses needed. Standards such as butcher, baker and fishmonger provide ways to deliver skilled people into leadership or technical positions.

Management training schemes may be a short-term way to use the Levy and will have value. However, the more people in our businesses who understand how to use raw materials and what to do when the unexpected happens, the higher the productivity and the fewer the problems.

Working in food factories is not attractive to many young people and their advisers, but there are wonderful careers and opportunities to be had. Engaging every employee by educating them is the way to correct this misapprehension and improve businesses.

Bill Jermey is chief executive of the Food and Drink Training and Education Council

Related topics: People, Meat & poultry, Skills Gap

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