Skills for life: FDF celebrates National Apprenticeship Week 2024

05 February 2024

Look back as we revisit some fabulous apprenticeship stories in honour of National Apprenticeship Week 2024!


This year we are excited to continue our support for National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) and this year’s theme is Skills for life. National Apprenticeship Week is dedicated to celebrating businesses and apprentices across the country and shining a light on the positive impact that apprenticeships make to individuals, businesses, and the wider economy.

Apprenticeships enable people to showcase and develop their entrepreneurial and technical skills, so we’re celebrating some outstanding apprentices and employers who are at the heart of the government’s mission to boost skills and extend the ladder of opportunity to all.

Food and drink manufacturing powers our nation, with businesses located in every constituency across the UK. With nearly half a million people employed by our sector, we offer a wide range of careers from engineering to marketing, food science and nutrition to helping us create a more sustainable food system for the future. Apprenticeships are a great way to start and progress a career in food and drink manufacturing and can help develop #SkillsForLife.

We are proud to share this apprenticeship story from one of our member companies, showcasing how their apprentice benefitted from their time and role:

fdf-awards-niall-apprenticeship-news.pngNiall Burns, Premier Foods Plc, Packaging Development Apprentice

Niall (pictured on the right) joined Premier Foods in 2019 as the company's first ever packaging development apprentice, reporting into the Grocery Research and Development team based in Worksop. Last year he was named FDF Apprentice of the Year for his contribution to the company and the way he's helped promote careers in the food and drink industry. Since finishing his apprenticeship he's taken on a permanent role with Premier Foods as a technologist.

Niall's work during his apprenticeship helped deliver a 40-tonne saving in packaging across Premier Foods through optimisation of the Bisto drum. He also worked on new forms of more sustainable packaging for both the Paxo brand and for Batchelors Pasta 'n' Sauce, improving recyclability and lowering the carbon footprint.

Throughout his studies Niall was an ambassador for Sheffield Hallam university, supporting other apprentices, and he took part in the "Technicians: We Make the Difference" programme with Gatsby, promoting apprenticeships and technical careers to other students.


Chloe Tremayne Payne: Mars Wrigley - Shift Mechanic (Level 3 Engineering Technician)

Chloe Tremayne Payne joined Mars Wrigley four years ago with little to no knowledge of engineering and manufacturing. Over the course of her apprenticeship, Chloe grew into a confident and accomplished engineer, challenging the practices of a historically male dominated role, and becoming a valuable part of the team. 

Despite being the only female engineer in a male dominated engineering team, and an apprentice, Chloe has not let this faze her. Her commitment to learning new skills, building great relationships, improving team wide communications, and delivering great standards of work, demonstrates her real determination to be the best version of herself.

A selection of stand-out achievements for Chloe include:

  • Chloe has worked on engineering projects and has supported our reliability technicians with proactive maintenance; last year Chloe was awarded a role as a shift technician in our wrapping area.
  • Raising awareness of the lifelong career benefits that come with apprenticeships, particularly for women in male-dominated industries, by speaking at a female-only sixth form in Slough.
  • Chloe was the lead for a site wide family fun day in 2019. She coordinated the event and organized all the activities including the family tours of the factory.  During the event she managed a small team of apprentices to deliver an outstanding event.

Caroline Keohane, FDF Head of Industry Growth:

“Investment in apprenticeships are key, these first-hand accounts acquired from our members are reflective of how apprenticeships can help shape successful lives for people from all walks of life and influence successful businesses within our industry. Food and drink manufacturers are dedicated to training and upskilling their workforce, opening doors for apprentices, and creating opportunities for growth.

But we need government to introduce greater flexibility within the Apprenticeship Levy to allow employers to invest their levy funds in shorter, modular training that can support people onto Apprenticeships in the future. A more hands on approach that supports smaller businesses is vital so that they can identify the right apprenticeship programmes, funding and training providers. This will ensure there are more apprenticeship opportunities available to equip people with #SkillsforLife.”

For more information on National Apprenticeship Week visit

To find out more about apprenticeships schemes near you visit

More information: Apprenticeships and technical education