The Women and Work programme is to be relaunched and will offer grants of £650 for training women in the food and drink industry.
The food and drink sector skills council, Improve, and the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink Manufacturing (NSA-FDM) are reintroducing the scheme which was first introduced in 2006. It will fund training through a matched contribution arrangement. Training programmes will have to cost a minimum of £750 to be eligible for the subsidy, with employers asked to fund the difference. In addition, employers will be required to make a contribution in kind – time, travel, accommodation, facilities and other resources – of £900 per trainee.
Training funded under the scheme falls under three strands:
• Women in Industry: Supporting access and retention of women in male-dominated sectors through careers guidance, vocational qualifications, and training or re-training in specific skills where there is an identified need;
• Women in the Lead: Supporting career progression into supervisory and line-management roles through training in specific techniques such as supervision, negotiation, risk management and project management;
• Women in Business: Supporting increased earning potential for women through a range of mentoring learning and training aimed at accessing middle and higher management positions.
The NSA-FM says women make up just a third of the workforce in the food and drink industry and around a quarter of all women employed in food and drink work part-time compared to just four per cent of men.
“There is a real need to address this massive gender imbalance and unlock the talent women have for the future good of the industry,” says Liz Pattison, head of skills solutions at the NSA-FDM. “There are skills gaps and shortages in every sector of food and drink, and the industry needs to recruit around 60,000 extra people to management, professional and technical positions by 2017. Increasing entry and retention of women at all levels, improving opportunities for career progression and increasing earning potential can play a vital role in addressing these needs, and the Women and Work initiative has been developed to provide a solution which will reach out to women right across the industry.”