Scottish food and drink firms turn to training to beat recession

Scottish firms in the resilient food and drinks sector are increasingly turning to training in a bid to come out of the recession even stronger than before, new research suggests.

Indicia Training, one of Scotland’s leading business skills and IT training firms, has reported a 55% year on year increase in the number of training courses being booked, the majority of which are in the food and drinks sector.

Flora McLean, director of the Scottish Food and Drink Federation, believes firms are increasingly turning to in-house staff in a bid to remain competitive and innovative.

She said: “A highly-skilled and innovative workforce lies at the heart of a successful food and drink industry. Developing the skills of the current workforce is central to maintaining our competitiveness, raising productivity and adding value through new product development and product reformulation.

“In the current economic climate it is even more important that we tap into our in-house talent, rather than rely on the periodic use of outside expertise, saving costs and instigating a process of continuous improvement.”

And Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, Richard Lochhead MSP, has said that economic growth in the industry is vital to Scotland’s recovery from recession and integral to supporting improvement of the nation’s public health and environmental sustainability.

He said: “Scotland’s food and drink sector is one of our great success stories and the figures prove it: sales of Scottish brands throughout Great Britain have increased by 21% from May 07 to May 09. We should be inspiring people to be a part of this dynamic industry.”

Scotland’s food and drink export market is currently worth £4.6bn a year.

Indicia Training’s general manager Howard Teale says that research from the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) which shows companies that invest in training are two and a half times more likely to survive the recession, has spurred a lot of firms into taking action.

He said: “Many Scottish firms which have been battening down the hatches to survive the recession are realising that in order to continue competing, they now need to take action.

“Companies are continuing to invest in their staff to not only improve quality of service and sales, but boost morale and increase results giving credibility over competitors.”

Indicia Training, which now employs six office based staff and a core of 15 freelance trainers, has seen turnover rise by 36% over the past two years to £550,000 this year. They are the only training company in Scotland to be awarded the Novell Gold Partner status – a much sought after industry accreditation – and can now count the likes of the Scottish Government, the NHS and Mars among its impressive client list.

And the company’s courses are proving so popular that overseas firms have even flown in delegates from as far away as Russia and the Middle East.




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