President of the Food and Drink Federation, and CEO and Chairman of Nestlé UK and Ireland, Dame Fiona Kendrick, 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.
Unveiled at the Food and Drink Federation’s (FDF) annual President’s Reception, the new pledge will see the total apprenticeship workforce in the sector increase from 1% to 3% against a 2013/14 baseline.
The target builds on an existing pledge to increase the number of higher-level apprenticeships by 20% by 2017, and other sector-wide initiatives to address a looming skills shortage.
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The export target to grow value-added food and drink exports by a third would achieve a total value of £6bn by 2020.
Speaking in London last night, Dame Fiona Kendrick commented: “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, Elizabeth Truss, Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills.
Truss commented: “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.
She added: “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.”