Defra announces apprenticeship scheme
Published:  23 June, 2011

Tens of thousands of new apprenticeship opportunities will be available in the food industry, in a drive to get more young people into skilled food jobs, Defra has announced.

Agriculture Minister Jim Paice has announced the UK Supply Food Chain’s commitment to create 50,000 apprenticeship opportunities in companies within agriculture and primary production, meat, food and drink manufacturing and processing, retail, hospitality and catering.

Half of the ‘earn and learn’ apprenticeships will be created by existing signatories of the Institute of Grocery Distribution (IGD), with a further 25,000 coming from the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), to be launched between July 2011 and December 2012.

The announcement came at the launch of the Defra-sponsored Food Supply Chains Skills Action Plan, which aims to tackle the skills shortage across the industry over the next 18 months by raising the profile of careers in the food industry.

The Minister said: “Our food industry is hugely important to growth, employing 3.7 million people and contributing almost £90bn to the UK economy. But we know that there is a big skills gap right across the food chain. The industry must attract more well qualified and ambitious candidates if it is to continue to grow and innovate.”

“These 50,000 apprenticeships show that the food industry is serious about becoming a place where young people seek out skilled and fulfilling careers. I would encourage anyone out there looking for a challenging career in a growing sector to think about the food industry.”

However, provisional statistics just released show that, while the government has delivered 100,000 more adult apprenticeships in its first year than in previous years, the drop-out rate is around one in four.