UK food industry apprentice numbers soar

By Rory Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Apprenticeship, Training, Vocational education

An initiative to deliver skilled trainees into the UK food and drink industries in a bid to bridge the skills gaps in the sector is going from strength to strength, said Improve.

The skills and training body has announced that a project to supply apprentices to industry players has seen the number soar from just 25 annually 21 months ago to what it called a “major milestone” of 1,000 at the end of 2010.

Last week the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) told FoodProductionDaily.com that increasing the number of apprenticeships was key to bridging a skills gap that, if left unaddressed, had the potential to the sector’s ability to compete on a national and global scale.

Improve declared that the introduction in Scotland of one of its Level II Modern Apprenticeships combined with a campaign urging the Scottish Government to widen its funding to accept adults - who make up 95 per cent of the workforce in the industry - were two major reasons for the boost.

The apprenticeship offers a choice of 11 skills – including meat, seafood and bakery processing, as well as training in distribution, facility support and production control. The scheme is an ideal way to deliver the skills and competences relevant to the job of the candidate, improve ongoing employability by including core skills and provide a nationally recognised qualification,” said Improve.

The training is carried out on-the job, with the pace tailored to meet the needs of the candidate and the business, it added.

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Traditionally, apprenticeships have been taken up by school leavers and new entrants to work. However, Improve said that over 60 per cent of the candidates are aged 20 and over. Some 34 per cent of apprentices were female, which demonstrates their widespread appeal, said the organisation.

In 2009/2010, businesses from baking, confectionary, fruit and Vegetables and Fish, as well as meat and poultry companies all took on trainees. Some 50 per cent of the 167 participating firms employed less than 10 people - proof that Modern Apprenticeships are suitable for small and medium sized businesses, added Improve.

Related topics: Processing & Packaging

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