It’s common knowledge that unemployment is at a record low, making those between jobs harder to source. At the same time, according to the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, food and drink manufacturing needs 140,000 recruits by 2024 as older workers retire and other trades lure younger recruits.
Set against this background, there’s clearly a huge necessity to offer would-be staff the best-recognised and highest-quality training available – and to nurture and fast-track employees with management potential. That’s why apprenticeships, which serve both needs, are so vital to the industry’s future.
Benefits for smaller firms
Many larger food businesses have well-established apprenticeship programmes, as can be seen from our regular Apprenticeships page. Still, they offer as much benefit to smaller firms.
Nor should common misconceptions deter employers from offering apprenticeship places. Of course, they require investment in terms of time and cash, but that should be the case with any new recruit and, at present, it seems companies are only tapping into a small fraction of potentially billions of pounds of funding available to them.
In addition, the more the sector gets involved in shaping the content of apprenticeship training, the more practical and relevant the training becomes. Even as I write, a degree-level packaging industry qualification for apprentices has been announced.
Meanwhile, Sheffield Hallam University’s National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering – as the approved provider – has begun recruiting the first intake for the Advanced Food and Drink Engineer Degree Apprenticeship, which starts this September.