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 on Wednesday at FDF's annual President's Reception 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.
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