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News & Press: Skills & Training

Training taking-off again is vital to the UK food and drink sector

20 July 2020   (0 Comments)
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Training taking-off again is vital to the UK food and drink sector says National Food & Drink Training
National Food & Drink Training (NFDT) , the specialist training arm of Scottish Bakers, has recommenced engagement with employers on the delivery of apprenticeships within the food and drinks industry across the UK following a period of closure as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown measures. The specialist training provider delivers apprenticeships in traditional Craft Bakery, Food Production and Supervisory Skills in England and Northern Ireland and a wider portfolio of Modern Apprenticeship programmes in Scotland where it works beyond the bakery sector into food & drink manufacturing, whisky, soft drinks, seafood and sea fish and dairy industries. Indeed, in Scotland the organisation has the enviable track record of recruiting well-over 400 apprentices each year onto a range of bespoke apprenticeship programmes with above average completion rates. 
“The COVID crisis brought all vocational training to a halt as we were unable to continue with our onsite company visits that make our programmes so unique,” said Chief Executive Alasdair Smith, “but with lockdown rules easing across the whole of the UK we’ve been able to carefully restart delivery and have been pleased with the positive response received so far. In fact, we’ve even had raft of enquiries already from businesses looking to upskill their workforce which is a great sign. ”
With workplace apprenticeships recognised by the Scottish and UK Governments as an important way in which businesses can help to recover from the impact of the lockdown, NFDT is perfectly placed to support employers and their staff to build skills and resilience, and improve efficiency and productivity at this crucial time. 
Training and Quality Manager, Scott Anderson said, “Our experience of delivering apprenticeships over many years has proven time and again that investment in training delivers a range of positive outcomes for employers and employees alike: better staff morale, improved quality, less waste and higher productivity to name just a few. And with funding available across the UK to support apprenticeships in businesses of all sizes it makes more sense than ever to look at recruiting an apprentice. In fact training will definitely aid business recovery at this time!”
“The funding rules and programmes are different across Scotland, England and Northern Ireland though,” advises Scott, “so it’s essential to ask for advice, and we can help with most questions.”
Scotland’s Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said:
“Scottish Bakers deliver essential training opportunities across bakery, food and drink manufacturing, whisky, seafood and dairy sectors. I am pleased that as part of the phased approach to easing lockdown restrictions, this important engagement with employers has recommenced. 
“Apprenticeships give individuals from every walk of life the opportunity to build the experience and skills that employers want to see. They also play a significant role in helping young people start a new career and in developing Scotland’s workforce. I encourage all food and drink businesses to consider the benefits of apprenticeships and training as we recover from the economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.” 

In Scotland, Modern Apprenticeships are funded through Skills Development Scotland. 
Gerry McBride, Sector Manager for the Food and Drink industry, said of the developments, “SDS is really pleased to see NFDT emerge from this unprecedented lockdown and begin to both deliver and recruit apprentices again. Apprenticeships are proven to be effective in supporting business resilience and growth so it’s arguably more important now than ever to focus on workforce development.” 
In England, NFDT is the preferred apprenticeship delivery partner of the Craft Bakers Association. Director of Operations, Karen Dear said, “We’re delighted to see NFDT restarting their training services, as we’ve worked with them for many years and seen the benefits of their work first-hand. For our smaller members, it’s also great to be able to advise that NFDT can now access funding to help them with their training which I know will be welcomed.”