A consumer manufacturing body has announced a pledge to treble apprenticeships in the food and drink industry and grow value-added food and drink exports by a third by 2020.
Food and Drink Federation (FDF) and CEO and Chairman of Nestlé UK and Ireland, Dame Fiona Kendrick, said the company’s objective was for the total apprenticeship workforce in the sector increase from 1 per cent to 3 per cent against a 2013/14 baseline.
Speaking at FDF’s annual President’s Reception in London last night, she said: “Increasing the number of apprenticeships and growing exports are key ambitions for our industry. We have made excellent progress against each of our strategic priorities this year and our new pledge is a significant commitment from Britain’s largest manufacturing sector to help drive up British productivity and economic growth.”
The event was attended by food and drink manufacturers, MPs and other stakeholders, as well as guests of honour, Liz Truss, Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills.
Highlighting the launch of the Great British Food Unit which is going to be to be set up next year to boost exports, support investment in skills and increase the number of protected products, Secretary of State Sajid Javid said:
“Food and drink is exciting in many ways and it’s a hugely important industry to our economy. That is why I want to make sure as government that we’re doing everything we possibly can to support it.”
The FDF’s target builds on an existing pledge to increase the number of higher-level apprenticeships by 20 per cent by 2017 and other sector-wide initiatives to address a looming skills shortage. The export target to grow value-added food and drink exports by a third would achieve a total value of £6 billion over the next four years.
Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said: “We want food and farming to be a top destination for high-flying graduates, as prestigious as medicine, as fun and stimulating as the gaming industry and as cutting-edge as London’s Tech City. By championing the latest technology, building skills and creating jobs and apprenticeships we will create a stronger brand for British food and drink that will see more of our quality produce enjoyed at home and exported around the globe.
“We want to encourage even more young people to launch careers in our booming food and drinks industry and rise to the sector’s new challenges. I welcome this pledge to treble apprenticeships which matches our commitment to triple the number of food and farming apprenticeships.”