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Conference to focus on productivity in food and drink industry

02 March 2011

A showpiece conference being held in London on March 23 will focus on how food and drink businesses can boost performance through skills and careers development

The Attracting Talent and Increasing Productivity conference, which is being organised by the National Skills Academy for Food & Drink and the Food & Drink Federation (FDF) in partnership with Improve, the food and drink skills council, will be held at the Business Innovation and Skills Conference Centre in Westminster.

The event, which is free to attend, will provide a platform to discuss skills, training and careers development in the context of issues such as boosting productivity, implementing lean manufacturing, sustainability and food security.

The conference will also offer employers the opportunity to learn more about accessing £2.2 million worth of government funding secured by the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink and Improve through the Joint Investment Programme (JIP) to subsidise the development of higher-level and technical skills in the industry.

Jack Matthews, group chief executive of Improve and the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink, said: “The purpose of this conference is to look at where the industry stands at present in terms of economic performance, people and productivity and where we want to go in the future, and we would welcome employers from all sectors of the industry to attend.

“There is increasing consensus among employers that investment in people, both through attracting talent and developing skills, is vital in the current economic climate to achieving improvements in business performance. Training and development linked to areas such as productivity improvement, sustainability and lean manufacturing are therefore hot topics going forward.

“In this context, the availability of significant funding through the Joint Investment Programme to support higher-level skills development in these areas is a huge boost to the industry and one that is sure to add real value by encouraging and facilitating training.”

Speakers at the conference will include John Allison, Assistant Director of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, Angela Coleshill, HR Director at the FDF, Keivan Zokaei, Head of Operational Research at SA Partners, and Tony Salt, Training and Development Manager at Swizzels Matlow.

Topics covered will include lean manufacturing implementation in the food and drink industry, promoting the industry as a careers destination of choice for young people, current and future economic prospects for the industry, and government skills policy.

Derek Williams, development director at Improve and Justine Fosh, skills solutions director for Improve and the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink, will also give presentations on the new Food Manufacturing Excellence qualification introduced to support sustainable and continuous productivity improvement in the industry.

There will also be opportunities for employers to meet National Skills Academy for Food and Drink training providers to discuss training needs in relation to productivity improvement, lean manufacturing and continuous development.

The Joint Investment Programme is a government scheme designed to bring together public and private investment to support training linked directly to economic growth. The £2.2 million secured for the food and drink industry will be used to fund up to 50 per cent of the training costs for a range of new Improve Proficiency Qualifications and Apprenticeships at Levels 3 and 4, with training delivered through the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink’s network of training providers.

· The Attracting Talent and Increasing Productivity conference takes place at the BIS Conference Centre, Victoria Street, London on Wednesday, March 23 from 10am to 3pm. To book a free place and to get full details of the agenda, please contact Laura Kemsley at laura.kemsley@improveltd.co.uk


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