News article

12 December 2012

Food manufacturers smash target and treble apprenticeships in 2012

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Food and drink manufacturers have trebled the number of apprenticeships across the industry, beating an original target to double before the end of 2012.

The Food and Drink Federation's (FDF) President Jim Moseley will announce the good news today (12 Dec) at FDF's annual President's Reception also attended by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, Owen Paterson.

The latest data from the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) and the sector skills council, Improve, shows that since August 2011 there have been 5,281 apprenticeship starts in food and drink manufacturing businesses across the country. Apprenticeships now make up 1.3% of the overall food and drink manufacturing workforce - up from 0.4% in 2010/11.

FDF's Apprenticeship Pledge, launched last year by the first winner of the BBC's 'The Apprentice' series, Tim Campbell, aims to build a pool of talented apprentices that can be developed and deployed across the sector.

Guests at the reception also heard good news about the launch of the industry's own Graduate Excellence engineering degree course. Half of the work placements required for the forty students have already been pledged for the course, which launches in 2014 at Sheffield Hallam University.So far, 23 placements and other offers of support have been pledged by: apetito, Arla Foods, Burton's Biscuit Company, Cargill, Dalehead Foods, General Mills, Mars, Mondelez, Nestlé, Premier Foods, United Biscuits, Warburtons and the William Jackson Food Group.

Graduate Excellence will be the UK's first dedicated food and drink engineering degree. It is currently being developed by FDF in partnership with the National Skills Academy (NSA) for food and drink and Sheffield Hallam University where the programme will be based. The degree course will begin in September 2014.

Both the Apprenticeship Pledge and Graduate Excellence aim to build the skills the UK's food and drink manufacturing sector needs for the future, enabling it to meet its ambition to grow 20% by 2020.

FDF President Jim Moseley, said:

“With people at the heart of our FDF centenary celebrations next year, I am delighted that we have beaten our Apprenticeship Pledge target by trebling our apprentice numbers in 2012. Our Apprenticeship Pledge and Graduate Excellence programme are both key to attracting the talented individuals that we need for the future, enabling us to achieve our joint vision with government to grow our sector 20% by 2020. Having so many great companies on-board, offering quality apprenticeships and work placements as part of the degree, is a sign of our industry's commitment to support the next generation of skilled food and drink employees and to achieving our vision.”

Tim Campbell, winner of the first series of the BBC's 'The Apprentice', who launched FDF's Apprenticeship Pledge in 2011, said:

“It is absolutely brilliant to see that FDF have not only met their commitment made back in October 2011, but that they have smashed their target! These apprentices are now learning essential skills for one of the UK's most important industry sectors and we have a great example of what can be achieved when a sector is forward focused and determined to invest in the future. Well done to the apprentices who are learning, the businesses which are benefitting and the team at FDF who are banging the drum!”

Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, Owen Paterson, said:

“As our largest manufacturing sector, the food and drink industry has a key role to play in helping Defra realise its twin ambitions of growing the economy and improving the environment. That's why we are committed to working with FDF to realise its vision of growth of 20% for the sector by 2020. Increasing skills and getting new people into the industry is vital, not just to this ambition but for the future of the sector as a whole. The doubling of the number of new apprenticeships in food and drink over the past year is a huge achievement and one of which the industry should be proud.”

Note to Editors:

  1. The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) is the voice of the food and drink manufacturing industry – the UK's largest manufacturing sector. For more information about FDF and the industry we represent visit:
  2. FDF's Apprenticeship Pledge aimed to double industry numbers from 1,711 to 3,422 before the end of 2012. For further information please visit:
  3. The latest data compiled by Improve and the National Apprenticeship Service shows that between August 2011 and July 2012 there were 4,786 apprentice starts across the UK, indicating that our pledge to double (from 1,711 to 3,422 starts) was achieved with four months remaining. Additional Scotland Modern Apprenticeships starts between 1 August 2012 – to the 11 December 2012 indicate that there were an additional 495 apprenticeship starts, taking the industry total up to 5,281 in total.
  4. Based on the Office of National Statistics Employment data, this means that apprentices now make up 1.3% of the food and drink workforce - up from 0.4% in 2010/11.
  5. For further information on FDF's 2020 Vision for Growth, please see:
  6. To read our new report 'Delivering Growth Through Apprenticeships', please visit:
  7. For more information on the food and drink industry's Graduate Ambition visit:
  8. For further information on the National Apprenticeship Service, visit:
  9. Improve is the sector skills council for the UK's food and drink industry. It aims to provide a strategic overview for the food & drink manufacturing sector to help increase performance and productivity. For further information please visit:
  10. About the National Skills Academy for Food & Drink:
    The National Skills Academy for Food & Drink is a sister organisation to Improve, the skills council for the UK food and drink sector. The Academy was created in 2007 to facilitate sector specific training provision to drive up sector productivity and competitiveness in line with employer needs. Training provider organisations that become part of the Academy undergo rigorous quality checks and include both publicly and privately funded learning centres. Each delivers some aspect of skills development for the food and drink manufacturing industry as a whole, and/or specialist skills for one of its various sub-sectors.
  11. Sheffield Hallam University is one of the UK's largest universities with more than 36,000 students, 27,000 of which are undergraduates. The University has the fourth highest number of postgraduate taught students in the UK and runs approximately 580 different courses. The University is England's largest provider of courses that involve work placements (such as a year in industry) and 91% of the University's graduates are in work or further study six months after graduation.
  12. Graduate Excellence has received co-investment from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UCES) through the Employer Investment Fund. Further information:

More information

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