Food minister supports sector pledge to grow apprenticeships

Building on existing, sector-wide initiatives to address a looming skills shortage, food and drink manufacturers have today pledged to increase the number of technical apprenticeships by 20% by 2017.

Launched during National Apprentice Week (9-13 March), the Food and Drink Federation (FDF)’s new pledge highlights the importance of cross-sector and Government collaboration to tackle the barriers to growing high level apprenticeships.

Defra Minister George Eustice MP congratulated FDF members for the industry’s commitment to invest in level 3 apprenticeships during a visit to the FDF-run food industry hub at the Big Bang UK Young Science & Engineers Fair.2 In partnership with Coca-Cola Enterprises, Mars UK, Mondelēz International, McCain, Premier Foods and PepsiCo UK, FDF is inspiring interest in food sector careers at the event by offering hands-on activities and enabling interaction with industry employees. The Minister later visited Mondelēz International’s site at Bourneville.

FDF Director of Competitiveness Angela Coleshill said: “Food and drink manufacturing apprenticeships are highly skilled, longer-term, and taken up by more experienced individuals, when compared with other sectors. This is fantastic for both employees and employers in the long-term, and we can and must do more to overcome existing barriers, such as access to funding for adult apprentices. In 2012 we were able to smash our target and quadruple the number of apprenticeships offered in the sector and, with support from Government, we intend to go further and increase high level apprenticeships in the sector by 20% by 2017.”

Welcoming FDF’s announcement, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for farming, food and marine environment, George Eustice MP said: “The apprentices I have met today show that food and farming offer a diverse range of dynamic and high-tech career options, making it a great choice of vocation for young people from all backgrounds.

“We know that record numbers of young people are looking to forge a career in our flourishing food and farming sector with more than 36,000 applications for apprenticeships this year.

“That is why I am delighted the Food and Drink Federation is going to increase the number of technical apprenticeships they offer. This is a great investment in our apprentices of the future, and will help the UK lead the world in food and farming.”

The pledge builds on collaborative work between FDF, the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink, Department for Business Innovation and Skills, and Defra as part of the Apprenticeship Trailblazer programme to develop gold industry standards for apprenticeship in our sector.

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