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Skills progress at last as food manufacturers smash skills target

13 December 2012

Food and drink manufacturers have trebled the number of apprenticeships across the industry, beating an original target to double before the end of 2012.

The Food and Drink Federation’s (FDF) President Jim Moseley announced the good news at FDF’s annual President’s Reception on 12 December which was also attended by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, Owen Paterson.

The latest data from the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) and the sector skills council, Improve, shows that since August 2011 there have been 5,281 apprenticeship starts in food and drink manufacturing businesses across the country. Apprenticeships now make up 1.3% of the overall food and drink manufacturing workforce - up from 0.4% in 2010/11.

FDF's Apprenticeship Pledge, launched last year by the first winner of the BBC’s ‘The Apprentice’ series, Tim Campbell, aims to build a pool of talented apprentices that can be developed and deployed across the sector.

Guests at the reception also heard good news about the launch of the industry’s own Graduate Excellence engineering degree course. Half of the work placements required for the forty students have already been pledged for the course, which launches in 2014 at Sheffield Hallam University.

So far, 23 placements and other offers of support have been pledged by: apetito, Arla Foods, Burton’s Biscuit Company, Cargill, Dalehead Foods, General Mills, Mars, Mondelez, Nestlé, Premier Foods, United Biscuits, Warburtons and the William Jackson Food Group.

Graduate Excellence will be the UK’s first dedicated food and drink engineering degree. It is currently being developed by FDF in partnership with the National Skills Academy (NSA) for food and drink and Sheffield Hallam University where the programme will be based. The degree course will begin in September 2014.

Both the Apprenticeship Pledge and Graduate Excellence aim to build the skills the UK’s food and drink manufacturing sector needs for the future, enabling it to meet its ambition to grow 20% by 2020.

FDF President Jim Moseley, said: “With people at the heart of our FDF centenary celebrations next year, I am delighted that we have beaten our Apprenticeship Pledge target by trebling our apprentice numbers in 2012. Our Apprenticeship Pledge and Graduate Excellence programme are both key to attracting the talented individuals that we need for the future, enabling us to achieve our joint vision with government to grow our sector 20% by 2020.

“Having so many great companies on-board, offering quality apprenticeships and work placements as part of the degree, is a sign of our industry’s commitment to support the next generation of skilled food and drink employees and to achieving our vision.”

Tim Campbell, winner of the first series of the BBC’s ‘The Apprentice’, who launched FDF’s Apprenticeship Pledge in 2011, said: “It is absolutely brilliant to see that FDF have not only met their commitment made back in October 2011, but that they have smashed their target!

“These apprentices are now learning essential skills for one of the UK’s most important industry sectors and we have a great example of what can be achieved when a sector is forward focused and determined to invest in the future. Well done to the apprentices who are learning, the businesses which are benefitting and the team at FDF who are banging the drum!”

Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, Owen Paterson, said: “As our largest manufacturing sector, the food and drink industry has a key role to play in helping Defra realise its twin ambitions of growing the economy and improving the environment.

“That’s why we are committed to working with FDF to realise its vision of growth of 20% for the sector by 2020. Increasing skills and getting new people into the industry is vital, not just to this ambition but for the future of the sector as a whole. The doubling of the number of new apprenticeships in food and drink over the past year is a huge achievement and one of which the industry should be proud.”


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