Improve boss Jack Matthews issues rallying cry to food producers to lead UK plc...
“Since Improve was created five years ago to represent the whole of the UK food and drink industry, the backing and commitment of employers and the support of learning providers have allowed us to place our industry at the very forefront of innovation in skills.
Working together with our employers, Improve has achieved real, tangible results for our industry. We have driven the reform of Apprenticeships, qualifications and training across the UK, established a pioneering and highly successful National Skills Academy for Food and Drink Manufacturing, and as a result have increased the total amount of vocational learning undertaken and raised the levels of accredited skills achieved. This in turn has contributed to the sectors’ increased efficiency and productivity. The government has praised this work and has now given Improve a clear and unequivocal mandate for it to continue to benefit food and drink businesses.
Among our most recent successes, we have seen registrations for the new-style NVQ in Food Manufacture account for nearly half of all manufacturing and processing NVQs being undertaken, with this reported to be the fastest growing of all processing NVQs. In Scotland, we have broken down a funding barrier to secure an unprecedented allocation of £1.5 million from the government for 656 new Modern Apprenticeship places – up from just 15 funded places a year ago.
This is very good news for the food and drink industry, which is now seen as a leader of the pack in skills development.
We have achieved a lot in five years, but now is the time to raise our game further still and position ourselves as an industry that can consistently lead the way for UK plc on a global basis.
Our mission is to achieve world-class skills for a world-class sector, and by increasing our engagement with employers we plan to go on increasing the level of skills and the number of people developing their skills at all levels in the industry. We aim to help increase productivity for everyone from Apprentices to senior managers, and to continue addressing the particular needs in food science and technology to close skills gaps and reduce unfilled vacancies.
We will make all of this easier to achieve by introducing the first employer-developed system of awards for unit-based skills. They will effectively be the industry’s first common currency for skills. It will allow employees to accumulate building blocks of skills awards that can meet their specific needs while also forming the basis of longer term personal development, contributing towards many different career pathways, and counting towards accredited national qualifications.
Added to this we will make learning more accessible to all by expanding our successful National Skills Academy for Food and Drink Manufacturing and establishing more academy centres in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales in addition to the network of academy providers already developing throughout the English regions.
With more input from more employers I believe we can achieve these aims quickly, making the food and drink industry an exemplar for UK plc, attracting higher-calibre recruits, achieving faster career progressions for employees, and delivering increased productivity and increased profitability.”
By Jack Matthews, chief executive officer, Improve