Opinion

Apprenticeships help to secure trade’s future

By Alasdair Smith

- Last updated on GMT

Smith: ‘The sector is heavily dependent on its people to drive productivity’
Smith: ‘The sector is heavily dependent on its people to drive productivity’
Alasdair Smith, chief executive of Scottish Bakers, highlights the role in training and apprenticeships have in securing the future of the food and drink industry.

Recent estimates by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs suggest that food and drink manufacturing contributes around £30bn to the UK’s economy and employs around 400,000 workers. It’s a vibrant, growing and vital part of the overall economy, and although advances in technology and manufacturing processes are helping raise efficiency, the sector is heavily dependent on its people to drive productivity.

However, low unemployment combined with the impact of Brexit are squeezing recruitment more than ever. Businesses across the country are increasingly reporting difficulties in sourcing suitably experienced and skilled staff across a range of roles.

Difficulty in recruitment

In Scotland, research by Scottish Bakers has shown more than half of the bakery trade is experiencing difficulties in recruitment, with a lack of skills, experience and issues with attitudes to work cited as the most common factors affecting the suitability of applicants. 

Thankfully, apprenticeships in the sector continue to provide vocational training routes for new recruits and existing workers looking to upskill.

In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, access to funding and support for apprenticeships is readily available, with National Food and Drink Training (NFDT), Scottish Bakers’ specialist training arm, able to work with businesses to implement a training and development programme that benefits the individual and the company.

Access to training

In England, the access arrangements are more complex thanks to the system of providers with different contracts to support levy-paying and non-levy-paying business. Here at NFDT, we are fortunate in having a contract to support levy-payers. 

Regardless of the route to workforce development, apprenticeships benefit individuals and employers alike, building efficiencies and, ultimately, securing the future of the trade through training.

Related topics: People, Bakery

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