A major drive to revitalise apprenticeships in food and drink manufacturing has been launched by the sector skills council Improve.
Consultation with employers starts next month on plans for a new framework for apprenticeship programmes, which aims to make them more attractive and accessible to a much wider range of employees, as well as making them easier and cheaper for employers and training providers to deliver.
Jack Matthews, chief executive of Improve, said: “Recently, the number of apprentices training in our sector went into steep decline because of an earlier revamp which, although well-intentioned, didn’t address employers’ needs properly.
“Since Improve was formed and took over responsibility for apprenticeships, we have changed the elements that were causing problems, and now we are seeing an upturn in numbers, but we need a much bigger reform to open up apprenticeships to a lot more people.”
Completed apprenticeships in food and drink manufacturing subjects at Level 2 have doubled in the past two years from 332 to 668.
However, Matthews said the numbers remained “disappointingly small” compared with other industries, where people complete apprenticeships in their thousands every year.
Central to the new proposal is the introduction of one, all-embracing flexible framework, which can be adapted to meet the specific needs of any of the 10 sub-sectors within food and drink manufacturing, from dairy and fresh-produce processing, through to soft-drink manufacturing, and brewing or distilling.