The apprentice: Nathan Brown
As a general operator apprentice, I have been operating and maintaining machines at the PepsiCo-owned Walkers manufacturing site in Leicester for almost 12 months now.
I’ve been taught a lot of new things, starting with a 12-week training programme that was a mixture of training in the classroom and on the factory floor with PepsiCo. For every four days on the factory floor, I spend roughly one-and-a-half hours in the classroom.
I like the set-up; you’re really encouraged to think, critique and bring your own ideas while learning the ropes. I’m constantly asking questions – it’s the best way to learn.
An apprenticeship is the perfect way to change career, as it gives you a thorough grounding in the knowledge you need while being able to earn money and get practical skills.
At 27, being the age I am, I have a life and responsibilities. Going back to college or university wasn’t something that I could afford to do, so this is a great alternative.
The employer: Mandy Reader
Apprenticeships are a hugely valuable way for PepsiCo to attract people with a real drive to pursue a career in food and drink, while also supporting business growth and developing key skills.
Many of our apprentices are older and bring with them broader life experience, which is a huge benefit to PepsiCo. In fact, the average age of our apprentices is currently 33.
Their prior experience means they bring both new ideas and ways of working to the business, but often an entrepreneurial flare and ambition to learn.
As organisational capability manager, I work on our ‘Grow our Own’ HR initiative, which provides accredited educational apprenticeships to all our frontline employees across the UK. It’s a programme that takes apprentices through five learning areas within our UK supply chain, including manufacturing, engineering, and food and drink.
We expect to take on 150–200 apprentices a year, across our sites. Our apprenticeship programme has been a great success, helping us to diversify our frontline roles and better support employee development.