The UK food industry has trebled the number of apprenticeships across the country since August last year, smashing its original target to double apprenticeships by the end of 2012.
The latest National Apprenticeship Service data show that there have been 5,281 apprenticeships started across the UK since August 2011 and apprenticeships now make up 1.3% of food manufacturing employees, up from 0.4% in 2010/11. The original pledge involved creating 3,400 apprenticeships in this time.
The news was announced at the Food and Drink Federation’s annual President’s Reception in London on Wednesday, which was attended by Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), Owen Paterson.
“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,” Paterson said.
“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.”
The target to double food and beverage industry apprenticeships was launched last year, as the FDF recognised that the industry was likely to require about 137,000 new employees from 2010-17. The industry trade body considered that the time was ripe to boost the number of food and drink manufacturing apprenticeships, as university tuition fees had been increased, the workforce was rapidly aging, and the industry was seeking to become less reliant on migrant workers, who represent 20% of the UK workforce in the sector.
The UK government fully funds apprenticeships for 16-18 year olds and provides 50% co-funding for those aged 19-25, and 40% co-funding for over-25s.