Delivering growth through apprenticeships
Between 2010-2020 we will require over 170,300 new employees
The food and drink manufacturing industry is a fast-paced innovative sector
ambitions to grow sustainably by 20% by 2020.
Our growth depends on a number of
factors, but key to achieving our ambition will be the development of a skills
'pipeline' to provide us with highly qualified and well trained employees for
We anticipate that between 2010-2020 we will require over 170,300 new employees,
41,000 of which will be needed in management roles. Although increased
automation has lessened the demand for production based employees, the focus of
has changed and the industry now requires the best qualified engineers to
research and develop new processes and highly skilled food scientists to design
develop the next generation of food products.
To meet this demand we need to change perceptions of careers in food and drink
manufacturing. In 2011 we launched our Taste Success campaign, through which we
are engaging directly with schools, young people and their influencers to bring
to life the exciting range of opportunities in our sector. We must also develop
the correct qualification routes to ensure that we have personnel with skills
specific to our industry - this we are doing through Graduate Excellence - the
first food manufacturing engineering degree course.
There is significant demand too for 'home-grown' talent – people who join a
company at an early stage in their career and have the opportunity to study for
further qualifications whilst gaining vocational skills.
This has led to the
development of FDF's Apprenticeship Pledge, a commitment made in August 2011 to
the number of industry apprenticeships to 3400 by the end of 2012. FDF member
companies signed-up to this ambitious target and at the end of 2012,
we had smashed our target, reaching 7,535 apprenticeships offered.
The journey towards doubling
The food and drink industry is a broad and innovative industry requiring a
variety of academic and vocational skills. Apprenticeships have been available
industry for many years but with changing employer priorities and the
placed on degree qualifications – this, until recently, had been a less
recognised route into food and drink manufacturing.
However with many companies requiring bespoke skills, only available through
in-house training, and the changing situation regarding university tuition
seemed an opportune time for the industry to consider other ways of developing
its skills for the future.
Throughout 2012, FDF worked to help companies understand the benefits
that apprenticeships can bring. Understanding that for small businesses in
particular, the paperwork and research involved in creating apprenticeships can
daunting, FDF in partnership with the National Apprenticeship Service and
Skills Academy for Food and Drink organised a series of Apprenticeship
to help companies through the process.
The Roadshows took place in London, Birmingham, Preston and Edinburgh and
involved member companies, including both employees and apprentices, giving
accounts of their experiences.
Why consider an apprenticeship?
According to a recent Improve survey – 80% of employers agree that apprentices
make their workforce more productive. As well as bringing in talented young
people with new ideas, an Apprenticeship programme can greatly help
succession planning as older employees retire and others leave the workforce.
It can also be beneficial for up-skilling current employees who
have joined the business in a different role. An apprenticeship
offers the opportunity to develop and train someone according
to your business priorities and workforce culture, at the same
time as they are developing skills and achieving qualifications.
As apprenticeship training for 16-18 year olds is fully
funded - and for 19 years plus is co-funded by Government,
Apprenticeship schemes represent a cost effective way to
support and train new staff.
Apprenticeship programmes need to reflect business needs
and be part of your workforce strategy.
The Mars Chocolate experience by Amanda Davies, Mars HR Director
Faced with a shortage of suitably qualified mechanical
engineers, Mars Chocolate UK set up its apprenticeship
scheme, offering school leavers the opportunity to gain real
skills and qualifications while working and learning about
This is a highly tailored scheme, which supports a small
number of apprentices on a four-year programme. The first
year is spent studying full-time towards a BTEC in Mechanical
Engineering at Kingston College.
Over the next three years,
apprentices are integrated into the business, offering them
the chance to understand how different parts of the company
operate and the opportunity to shadow people in a range of
positions. At the end of the programme, apprentices are ready
to be signed off as Reliability Technicians.
The programme was developed because of the need to bring
suitably qualified Mechanical Engineers into the business
and to equip them with the necessary qualifications and
skills required by Mars. It also enables Mars, a private-family
owned company, to put its principles into action, ensuring that
the scheme delivers mutual benefits for the apprentices and
supporting them to gain the skills they need to succeed in the
Finally, the programme is driven by the desire to
grow talent within the local community and support a strong
UK manufacturing base.
The key success factor for the apprenticeship scheme is
to ensure a suitable talent pipeline to support current and
future business needs while investing in individual talent.
It has enabled the business to build links with the local
engagement levels among
Mars' commitment to
UK manufacturing, and
given a select group of
apprentices the chance to further their education, equipping
them with the skills they need to succeed and thus putting
Mars' Mutuality principle into action.
Our advice to other businesses wanting to develop an
apprentice programme would be:
- Understand your demand, i.e. where do you have challenges
recruiting externally, which could be solved by developing
talent through an apprentice programme.
- Identify a great partner college to support the programme
and work hard to build a strong relationship with that
- Identify great line managers within your business who can
nurture and support your apprentices.
- Recognise that apprentices are an investment in the future
talent of your business so it is vital that you give them the
time and support they need to develop.
The Nestlé experience by Nestlé HR Director Matt Stripe
“By investing in apprentices now, we are growing our own talent for the
Nestlé has been involved with apprenticeships locally at its sites for more than
40 years and these schemes have helped to develop the high levels of skill we
have in our factories today. Although apprenticeships have always been present,
the last few years we have recognised the valuable behaviours that
apprenticeships bring to our organisation. Apprenticeship schemes allow
in to the organisation and we have broadened our offerings beyond the
traditional operational routes.
Our apprentices develop technical skills and knowledge that is tailored to our
operations and processes through a collaborative approach between ourselves and
our provider. As our apprentices learn on the job they also develop the desired
Nestlé behaviours and how to do things 'the Nestlé way' as second nature which
breeds incredible loyalty and pride for Nestlé.
Apprenticeships enable us to offer employment to the local community.
Many of our sites are in rural communities where we are one of or the only major
employer in the area. We are able to offer young people who cannot or do not
want to leave their local area the option of achieving their potential and
developing an exciting career with a Nestlé apprenticeship. We are now looking
we can leverage our apprenticeship schemes so that those who want to take
advantage of the size, scale and variety of operations and locations that
offer can do so through their apprenticeship development.
Nestlé does not apply a one size fits all approach to apprenticeships and
recognises that different sites have different needs. The apprenticeship
have developed enables sites to take advantage from a centralised support
which ensures quality and consistency of teaching, offers advice and support on
developing new schemes to fit factory and functional needs. Our apprenticeship
schemes develop the complementary skills apprentices need to become the leaders
of tomorrow in our organisation whilst at the same time meeting our future
resourcing and skill needs.
By investing in apprentices now, we are growing our own talent for the future,
strengthening our talent pipeline to ensure skill gaps are eliminated and hard
source skills do not have to be bought in.
Steps to success
View six steps to success
Apprenticeship case studies
Sam Roberts, Apprentice Engineer, Unilever - and FDF Apprentice of the Year 2012
Sam is a fourth year apprentice engineer, based at Unilever's Trafford Park
manufacturing site – the home of PG Tips, Scottish and Lyon's tea. View the Unilever case study.
Calum Marnock, Confectionery Apprentice - Mondeléz
Calum started with Mondeléz in September 2009 as a temporary operator. View the Mondeléz case study.
Lydia Cebreiro, Modern Apprentice, Business Administration - Nestlé UK &
Lydia joined Nestlé UK & Ireland in 2011 on its two year HR Apprenticeship
programme as a recruitment coordinator. View the Nestlé case study.
Joe Breen, Apprentice Process Operator - Cargill
Joe is part of a team of three operators with responsibility for maintaining the
effective running of the flour mill over a twelve hour shift. View the Cargill case study.
View more apprenticeship case studies
Last reviewed: 04 Apr 2014