The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated that food and nutrition industry workers are key to the health and wellbeing of everyone. The industry was quick to respond to the change in demand and consumer shopping habits, but some are arguing that this experience provides the perfect example of how we rely on our food supply chains. With a skills shortage looming, could apprenticeships be more important than ever for the food and drink industry?
Food manufacturing alone will need 140,000 recruits by 2024, according to research by Food and Drink Federation, and apprenticeships might be the ideal route for many A-level students who want to pursue a rewarding career in food but may be put off from attending university, especially with traditional university activities curtailed due to the pandemic.
Apprenticeship schemes ‘a ladder for opportunity’
Robert Halfon, Chair of the Education Select Committee is arguing that all young people be given the opportunity to pursue an apprenticeship. He told FE Week, “The coronavirus pandemic should be recognised as an important moment for re-establishing a ladder of opportunity. With an apprenticeship guarantee, every young person will have the chance to get the skills and training they need for a prosperous future.”
Echoing this sentiment, Scottish Bakers, the trade body with 200 members in Scotland explains why apprentice trainers should be viewed as key workers and how their training has been impacted by the pandemic.
“Staff training and development is good for businesses and creates great career paths for individuals enriching the industry as a whole. Scottish Bakers is experienced in delivering training to Scotland’s food and drink sector and we look forward to working with our members and other businesses over the coming weeks and months.”
They’re also encouraging government support for apprentice training, with Alasdair Smith, CEO of Scottish Bakers saying, “But we need action from the Scottish Government to both encourage businesses to resume training activities and provide financial help to us that will help maintain our capacity to deliver high-quality skills and training to scores of apprentices when restrictions begin to ease.”
“Without action, our ability to preserve and pass on valuable craft and production skills will be compromised and countless business and apprentices will potentially lose out.”
Major brands offer apprentice opportunities to encourage new talent, what about SME’s?
Major FMCG brands are among those already offering advanced apprentice schemes for students who want to pursue a career in food and drink. One of these is the Nestlé Academy which offers apprenticeship schemes in engineering, food manufacturing, and food supply chain as well as in management and finance.
These apprenticeships offer workplace training and study, with a debt-free recognised qualification and real-world experience.
Other institutions offering schemes include the University of Lincoln, Bakkavor, Avara Foods, and schemes run by government bodies like those run by the government of Wales.
Cian Short, Early Career Manager, Bakkavor, explains how their apprentice scheme works, and helps create future stars for the company. Find more case studies and resources like this in the new Food Matters Careers Student Zone.
But what about SME’s? If your business offers apprenticeship schemes contact us and we’ll include your schemes in our resources for students.
Food Matters Careers: helping connect the industry with the stars of the future
Food Matters Careers is creating resources for industry, academia and students so that we can all work together to fix the food skills shortage. These include dedicated student resources, and a series of careers events taking place in October and November 2020.