Thorntons sets standard for apprenticeships in food and drink sector

Posted on 7 Feb 2012

The National Skills Academy for Food and Drink has urged food companies to take on apprentices after an apprenticeship programme helped chocolate maker Thorntons improve the performance of its production line and save £1 million.

At Thorntons, a structured staff development programme, including the delivery of 17 adult apprentices in Food Manufacturing Excellence, has significantly contributed towards over £1million worth of savings from productivity improvements. The 12-month apprenticeship programme introduces shop floor staff and managers to lean manufacturing techniques.

The Thorntons FME “graduates”, which include four women, have all been trained by National Skill Academy specialist CQM Training and Consultancy Ltd and are due to complete their Level 3 Apprenticeship by the end of March.

David Proctor, Thorntons’ operations director, said: “A further 30 staff have come forward to express their interest in FME Apprenticeships since hearing about the strong job satisfaction that the first group have enjoyed. We’re pleased to support them – the pay-back from the business perspective has been very tangible in terms of both cost reduction and continuous improvement culture.”

Justine Fosh, director of the National Skills Academy for Food & Drink, said the Thornton example illustrated the bottom line business value of the wide range of Apprenticeship programmes now available to the food and drink industry.

“Apprenticeships have traditionally been associated with production line engineering but the success demonstrated here with Food Manufacturing Execellence shows how effective they can be in creating real commercial added value in everything from product development and innovation to production line operative skills.”

The Food and Drink Federation, supported by the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink, has pledged to double the number of apprentices in the industry in England and Scotland to 3,400 by the end of 2012.