Oct 1st, 2014
7 mins

Government backs business appetite for quality skills in food and drink

The Government has today announced support for a new partnership between employers and trade bodies to develop food and drink manufacturing skills in England.
The new Industry Skills Partnership will bring together organisations from across the food and drink sector in a drive to boost skills and improve the quality and relevance of training. The partnership will place employers firmly in the driving seat when it comes to developing the workforce of the future and driving growth.
The Industry Skills Partnership will see leading businesses including Thorntons, Nestlé, Premier Foods, Britvic, 2 Sisters and Arla working in collaboration with trade groups and retailers. The funding follows a successful bid by the industry as part of the Government’s Employer Ownership of Skills initiative.

Announcing the Government’s support, Skills Minister Nick Boles said:

“Food and drink processing now employs more than 300,000 people in England alone. This new partnership will allow the industry to develop the skills and talent it needs to grow and compete on the global stage. We are committed to putting employers in the driving seat when it comes to skills so they can address the specific challenges facing their businesses.”

Jonathan Hart Chief Executive of Thorntons which took a lead role in the consortium of businesses behind the bid, said:

“This is a historic day for the food industry and we very much welcome the support provided by government. The new Industry Skills Partnership is here to address the big issues and tackle the big jobs that power industry growth, exports, global reputation and the kind of innovation necessary to produce quality products more efficiently, more effectively and more sustainably.”

Fiona Kendrick, Chairman and Chief Executive of Nestlé UK and Ireland also welcomed the investment:

“The new Industry Skills Partnership brings the industry together in powerful union. Through industry-wide collaboration, we can now solve the skills challenges we all share and exert far greater collective influence on the skills system supporting talent growth in the sector.” 2
Justine Fosh, CEO of the National Skills Academy for Food & Drink which facilitated the pan-sector bid and will support the Industry skills Partnership, said:

“We are delighted to be joining forces with government and businesses from across food and drink manufacturing to support growth in the sector through investing in skills.”
“We look forward to welcoming active participation from business leaders representing every corner and facet of the industry – companies large and small – in designing and driving forward the future skills agenda on which the future of the industry depends.”

Among the “Big Industry Issues” the new partnership will tackle will be:

For new industry entrants:

  • Making the sector more attractive as a career destination by providing careers advice to 5,000 young people
  • Supporting the introduction of new Trailblazer Apprenticeship standards relevant to food industry roles with 10 new apprenticeship standards
  • Helping to fill 500 vacancies and address a chronic shortage of food scientists and production engineers with knowledge and experience of the food industry by matching employers with recruits

For the sector’s current workforce:

  • Improving technical skills right across the sector
  • Developing industry-accredited quality standards (Kitemarks) for training provision – both for training providers and training courses
  • Designing and developing training programmes relevant to modern industry needs. And agreeing the sector-wide training priorities and innovative programmes to be supported by the investment.

Additional quote from Jonathan Hart

“For too long we have been regarded as a ‘sector of sectors’ spread across areas such as bakery, beverages, confectionery, dairy, meat and seafish – yet we all share similar skills shortages and training and recruitment gaps,” said Mr. Hart.
“The truth is we are one industry. Through the Industry Skills Partnership, we can unlock the enormous potential to accelerate our own individual commercial success and enhance the industry’s position as a major contributor to the country’s long-term economic fortunes.”


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