The number of apprenticeships in the food and drink industry has trebled since 2010/2011, beating a target to double by the end of 2012.
Data from the National Apprenticeship Service and sector skills council Improve shows that since August 2011 there have been 5,281 apprenticeship starts in food and drink manufacturing businesses across the country.
Apprenticeships now make up 1.3% of the overall food and drink manufacturing workforce – up from 0.4% in 2010/11.
President of the Food and Drink Federation Jim Moseley announced the figures at FDF’s annual President’s Reception last night (Thursday) which was also attended by Environment Secretary Owen Paterson.
FDF’s Apprenticeship Pledge, launched last year by ex-winner of the BBC’s ‘The Apprentice’, Tim Campbell, intends to build a pool of apprentices that can be deployed across the sector.
The FDF also launched a Graduate Excellence engineering degree course at the reception, the UK’s first dedicated food and drink engineering degree.
Half of the work placements required for the 40 students have already been pledged for the course, which launches in 2014 at Sheffield Hallam University
The degree course is being developed by FDF in partnership with the National Skills Academy for food and drink and Sheffield Hallam University and will begin in September 2014.
Twenty three placements and other offers of support have been pledged by: apetito, Arla Foods, Burton’s Biscuit Company, Cargill, Dalehead Foods, General Mills, Mars, Mondelez, Nestlé, Premier Foods, United Biscuits, Warburtons and the William Jackson Food Group.
“I am delighted that we have beaten our Apprenticeship Pledge target by trebling our apprentice numbers in 2012. Our Apprenticeship Pledge and Graduate Excellence programme are both key to attracting the talented individuals that we need for the future, enabling us to achieve our joint vision with government to grow our sector 20% by 2020.”