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New route into sector for unemployed young people

03 September 2010

Food manufacturers are being invited to have their say on shaping a new training programme aimed at getting more young people working in the industry

Improve, the food and drink sector skills council, has secured government backing to develop a Food and Drink Sector Routeway Training Programme in a bid to tackle the shortage of school-leavers opting for a career in food and drink.

Food and drink manufacturers are being invited to have their say on shaping a new training programme aimed at getting more young people working in the industry.

The programme will be funded through the government’s Young Person’s Guarantee, a scheme run by the Department for Work and Pensions which guarantees training and employment opportunities to 18 to 24 year olds who have been unemployed for six months or more.

Improve is now inviting employers to come forward to join a steering group which will oversee the development of the programme to ensure it is relevant to the needs of the industry.

Justine Fosh, director of skills solutions for Improve and the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink Manufacturing, said: “Food and drink is one industry where there are still plenty of employment opportunities, especially for young people. The industry needs more young people coming into it because its workforce is ageing and we are anticipating a high demand for new recruits to replace those who retire or otherwise leave the industry over the coming years – something in the region 137,000 job places by 2017.

“Concern over employment for young people is obviously high at the moment. We have been able to demonstrate to the government that opportunities exist in food and drink, that we have the capacity to train and develop young people looking for work and provide them with rewarding careers.

“We are at an early stage, with just the outline of the programme agreed in principle. But what is so promising about it is that it will not just be about getting young people off the unemployment list. We will be developing high-quality training aimed at preparing them for long-term employment and fulfilling the skills needs of the companies they work for.

“That is why it is important for us to have employers on board shaping the programme to ensure we are developing the right skills in the right way to make employing young people a viable and attractive option for companies. Demand for more highly skilled workers is rising rapidly, and it is important we use this programme to lay the right foundations for young people to develop and progress.”

The National Skills Academy for Food and Drink Manufacturing, Improve’s partner organisation, will be involved in delivering the training through its network of providers. The two- or eight-week programmes will include helping young people identify employment opportunities in the industry and developing basic skills in preparation for applying for work.

The two-week programme will focus on basic employability skills, health and safety, food safety, food handling and operations practice and quality and improvement in food operations.

The eight-week programme will go into more depth, including drawing up individual training and development plans focusing on the specialist skills needed for specific job roles and on-the-job training through work experience and work shadowing. It will also allow trainees to gain credits to count towards full qualifications in employability skills, numeracy and literacy skills and food manufacturing skills at entry level or level 1, offering direct progression to further skills development in employment.


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