Secretary of State for Business meets Arla apprentices

Yesterday, the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Rt Hon Dr Vince Cable MP, visited Arla’s dairy in Leeds to learn about its apprenticeship schemes to develop dairy production skills.

The Business Secretary was visiting the dairy as part of a day touring the North of England to see the variety of apprenticeship schemes now on offer to young people.

Arla, home to household dairy brands including Anchor®, Cravendale®, Castello®, Lactofree® and Lurpak®, has created more than 100 apprenticeships, with trainees at various stages of schemes across its 16 sites.

Ten of Arla’s apprenticeships are part of the Government’s employer-led food and drink manufacturing Trailblazers programme. The course has been specifically designed to ensure that apprentices learn the most appropriate dairy processing and technology skills over a four year period.

Arla chairs the Dairy Industry Skills Committee, represented by key players in the dairy sector, which has worked together to introduce a bespoke training programme, Project Eden. This is also supported by the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink.

Under the scheme, young people can study either for a Foundation Degree in Dairy Technology, or a Level 3 Apprenticeship in Dairy Engineering. The courses are supported by Reaseheath College in Cheshire, and some of the top students each year get the opportunity to study for an MSc in Dairy Science and Technology in Copenhagen.

During the visit, the Secretary of State spoke to a number of apprentices who are training at the Arla Leeds site, located in Stourton, and learnt about their role in the dairy production process. He said:
“For too long there has been a divide between university and vocational education which has been damaging for both employers and young people. Placing university degrees and apprenticeships on an equal footing will help to break down barriers and better meet the needs of business. “
Emma Wood, who had recently completed the dairy technology qualification within Project Eden, said: “I chose to follow an apprenticeship because I knew I’d be able to learn real skills while also being paid. The course is varied, as we learnt everything from food safety to project management, and it’s great to learn both on-site and in the classroom. Following my training, I was offered a permanent role at Arla.”

Annette Barber, Vice President of HR, Arla Foods UK, said: “We believe we have an industry-leading approach to training and development, with a range of apprenticeships designed to help our employees become the best in the business.

“Dairy is a unique business, and requires specialist skills, which is why it’s crucial that our apprentices gain a depth of technical education and practical knowledge to meet our high quality standards. Where possible, we recruit from the areas local to our sites, and importantly, all our schemes are paid, enabling young people to earn while they learn.”

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