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Scotland Food & Drink Skills launches academy

18 November 2010

Industry leadership organisation, Scotland Food & Drink, has launched a Skills Academy at Edinburgh Castle to help meet its ambitious target of growing the value of the industry by 25% to £12.5bn by 2017

The Scotland Food & Drink Skills Academy (SFDSA), funded by the Scottish Funding Council, Skills Development Scotland and Scottish Enterprise, is the consequence of a recognition that skills provision is the single biggest catalyst to the sustained long term growth of the industry. Proactively addressing skills gaps, it will focus on delivering the competencies required for the industry to access new growth markets.

The SFDSA will stimulate demand for training by helping employers identify the skills they will need now and in the future to allow them to take advantage of new developments and technologies.

The Academy will promote the significant bottom line business benefits associated with higher skill levels and the operational efficiencies that can be achieved by embedding these skills within the workforce.

The SFDSA will provide a central point for employers to gain access to high quality, relevant training for their staff. Based at the University of Abertay Dundee, the Academy will deliver training through a provider network of leading Scottish universities, colleges and private sector organisations.

The SFDSA will also work closely with the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink that operates across the rest of the UK, to access specialist provision located outwith Scotland.

In addition to providing employers with a conduit to existing training, the SFDSA is planning to develop new qualifications in response to employer demand. Its first qualification – the Scottish Fellowship in Food and Drink, a professional qualification designed to equip trainees with the knowledge to ensure productivity, profitability and sustainability in today’s marketplace – was launched earlier this year.

Food and drink is a key industry for Scotland’s economy and the SFDSA will help provide the required connectivity between training provision and employers in the sector. Research by Improve, the sector skills council for food and drink manufacturing clearly demonstrated that manufacturers in Scotland experienced barriers to undertaking training that need to be addressed and the SFDSA is the vehicle by which these barriers can be removed.

Keith Brown, Minister for Skills and Lifelong Learning, said: “The food and drink industry is worth billions of pounds to our economy and has a major contribution to play in securing Scotland’s economic recovery.

“We have made clear our commitment to training through a refreshed Skills Strategy that stresses the importance of investing in skills development in our key sectors.

“The Skills Academy will help make this happen by providing a focal point for food and drink skills provision in Scotland.

“Working to build stronger businesses and a highly skilled workforce will help the Scottish food and drink industry to increase its global competitiveness and provide a valued contribution to our aim of making Scotland a ‘Land of Food and Drink’.”

Paul McLaughlin, Chief Executive of Scotland Food & Drink said: “The Skills Academy is a major milestone for our organisation and is absolutely crucial in helping us meet our ambitious growth targets. Improving skills across the industry will increase productivity and trigger the innovation required to secure Scotland’s position in the international marketplace.”

Particular areas identified as key to achieving industry growth include the development of skills in leadership, innovation, marketing and internationalisation.

John Nixon, Manager of the SFDSA commented: “There is a lack of awareness within the sector of the bottom line benefits that effective training and upskilling of staff can deliver. The majority of food and drink employers in Scotland, in particular SMEs which make up 80% of the industry, have no training plan or budget in place and are often unsure of what training they require. The Skills Academy will work closely with employers to identify specific training needs and in turn create a workforce equipped for the future.”

Gerry McBride, Food and Drink Manager, Skills Development Scotland added: “The food and drink industry is a priority sector for Scotland, with job opportunities in areas including engineering, food science and food technology. The Skills Academy will offer up to date, relevant training in these key areas, and others, to meet the needs of industry and help address skills gaps.

“Investments and collaborative work, such as this, will help improve productivity and ensure the industry continues to be one of Scotland’s key economic strengths.”


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