Apprenticeships - steps to success

1. Have a clear rationale

There are many reasons why a business may consider an apprenticeship, but it is important that they are the right reasons:

Good reasons:

  • You want to secure a pipeline of young talent whose future skills will reflect exactly what your business needs
  • You want your workforce to progress through to take on additional responsibilities and promotion
  • To aid succession planning
  • Because you are a good employer

Bad reasons

  • Because it makes me look like a good employer
  • Because I want low cost labour
  • Because my competitors are doing it
  • Because the retailers seem to be doing them

2. Identify the need

Apprenticeship programmes need to reflect business needs and be part of your workforce strategy. You will need to assess how the apprenticeship programme will fit into your whole business approach to people develop.

You may want to look at how you need to:

  • Increase productivity and manufacturing processes
  • Improve technical capability
  • Increase sales
  • Introduce a culture of continuous improvement

You may also want to consider how an apprenticeship programme can support individuals in your business to:

  • Learn new skills
  • Be recognised for the skills they have

3. Select the framework

An apprenticeship has three elements:

  • Industry skills and knowledge
  • Functional skills (maths and English)
  • Employment skills (rights, responsibilities and personal skills)

There are over 200 food and drink industry apprenticeships in areas including: product development; production; engineering; quality and health and safety; planning and distribution and logistics.

Apprenticeships are also available in generic roles such as marketing; HR; finance and business administration.

4. Select a provider

Companies are able to source their own training providers, choosing on criteria including their experience of delivering in the industry, geographic location and recommendations.

However, for companies new to apprenticeships, the National Skills Academy for food and drink can help you source a training provider and can be contacted via the website:

5. Pilot

It will be important to pilot your apprenticeship model on a small scale before committing to a bigger roll-out. This will enable you to consider what you want to do yourself and where you need help from others. It will also enable you to undertake an honest appraisal with your training provider.

6. Lessons learned

Adams Foods, who successfully implemented an apprenticeship programme and assisted with FDF/NSA Apprenticeship Roadshows has the following advice for companies embarking on the process:

  • Interview process, get the best out of them!
    • Carry out initial assessments, run team games and involve, managers/mentors in the process.
  • Choose the right mentor and manager
    • Know the apprentice and motivators
  • Have a clear structure and training plan
    • Have an initial 2 month plan with clear visibility for both apprentice and manager
  • Support the manager
    • They may not have managed someone that young, they need your support
  • It's usually their (the apprentice's) first job, be prepared to teach them a “work ethic” and soft skills.


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