Barbers outpace food apprentices
Published:  13 March, 2015

There are nearly as many apprentice barbers as apprentices across the entire food sector, and the numbers are continuing to fall, figures have revealed.

According to the latest government statistics, food and drink apprenticeships declined by 20% from 3,760 in 2012/13 to 3,010 in 13/14. Meanwhile, the number of apprentice barbers stands at 2,840 in 2013/14.

Bill Jermey, chief executive of the Food and Drink Training Council, said the figures were disappointing and showed a lack of engagement. “The fact there are almost as many barbers in apprenticeships than the entire food industry doesn’t say much. And according to the latest statistics, food manufacturing apprenticeships are declining.

“Currently, the government and all political parties are seeing apprenticeships as the way forward. Government accepts that they didn’t get it right, but we’re now in the process of getting the Butchery Trailblazer Apprenticeship scheme, drawn up by employers with the standard on just two sides, which should be much more attractive to employers and potential apprentices. There are currently about 500 butchery apprentices and we want that to expand greatly. We’re doing our bit in the meat trade to put right what went wrong in the past. The implementation of apprenticeship policy in the food industry in the past 10 years just hasn’t delivered.”

Jermey said the previous framework was too complicated, with forms running to more than 250 pages of A4. The new Trailblazer scheme simplifies that and reduces the requirements down to two sides of A4, making it less of a daunting prospect to sign up to. He added that the scheme could also be applied across the board, from retail, through to manufacturing and catering.

Ultimately, an uptake in apprenticeships within the meat industry would benefit the entire trade, he said: “We want more to engage with the Trailblazer scheme, it’s a great opportunity to engage more young people and attract them into our industry.”