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Haggis 'leads in new Modern Apprenticeship'

16 April 2010

David Candlish, a production operative at Grant Foods in Galston, Ayrshire, has become the first person in Scotland to complete a Level 2 Modern Apprenticeship

One of the first to congratulate him was Keith Brown MSP, minister for skills and lifelong learning.

Brown took time out of his busy schedule to visit tinned haggis producers Grant Foods and present 35-year-old David with his certificate alongside Kelvin Thomson, Improve, the food and drink sector skills council, national development manager for Scotland.

Kelvin said: “This is a great achievement. Not just for David but for the food and drink industry.

“Previously, Modern Apprenticeships were only available at Level 3, with funding only available for employees up to the age of 19. In an industry where the overwhelming majority of workers are qualified no higher than Level 2 and where 95 per cent of the workers are aged 20 and over, this meant Modern Apprenticeships just did not fit the profile of the workforce.

“We made the argument that the Level 2 Modern Apprenticeship would open up new opportunities in the food industry, help us to reach out to under-represented groups who are perhaps starting out from a lower skills base, and encourage more small and medium sized businesses to take on apprentices.

“The government invested £1.5million in the initiative and we are now seeing the benefits of this to the economy in terms of more training opportunities leading to more jobs, and a more highly skilled workforce driving growth.”

David, who lives in Kilmarnock, was given the opportunity to take a Modern Apprenticeship after the Scottish Government was persuaded by Improve, the food and drink sector skills council, to make Modern Apprenticeships available at Level 2 for the first time and also abolish the age cap on funding.

As a result, nearly 600 people working in Scotland’s £7.4bn food and drink industry have started a Modern Apprenticeship in the past 12 months, compared to less than 25 the previous year.

David, who has been working at Grant Foods for around 18 months as a production operative, said he saw taking the Level 2 Modern Apprenticeship in Meat and Poultry skills as an important means of advancing his career.

“I was very keen to take this qualification as it gives me opportunities I didn’t have before.

“As well as a greater understanding of the business, I now have a building block to go on-to other things.

“I would like to further my career and this qualification will help me focus on how I can enhance my prospects and what my next move should be.

“I would like to thank Grant Foods for giving me this opportunity and encouraging me throughout my training.”

David’s employers Grants Foods, said it had immediately seen the benefit of the Level 2 MA. John Fallon, chief executive of Grant Foods, said: “As soon as we heard about the introduction of the new Level 2 Modern Apprenticeship, we wanted to get on board.

“It offers an ideal approach to training for our business as it provides flexible on-the-job learning which fits seamlessly in with day-to-day operations.

“It gives the apprentice a broader understanding of the way the business works, which means they can be more hands-on in a number of different areas and the added level of capability helps to build a worker’s self esteem and the team’s morale.

“David is a shining example of what the Level 2 Modern Apprenticeship can achieve. He was keen to progress his career and because of his dedication, was able to finish the course in only five months. I think it is important that workers of any age be given such opportunities. Funding for David’s Modern Apprenticeship would not have been available under the old system, but now we have a cost-effective means of improving the skills of our entire workforce.”

The company sends its celebrated tinned haggis to restaurants around the world and has even supplied it to allied troops in Iraq to celebrate Burns Night.

Minister for skills and lifelong learning Keith Brown said: “The Scottish Government introduced the Level 2 Modern Apprenticeships as part of our overarching skills programme which supports people to earn while they learn.

“We are delighted it has proven to be so successful, particularly within the food and drink sector, in helping so many individuals the qualifications need to do their job and equip themselves with skills for the future. David is clearly leading the way by completing in only five months. I wish him and the company the very best.”

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