Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
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Apprenticeships in food and drink sector praised

To mark National Apprenticeship Week, Food Minister George Eustice visited McCain Foods yesterday.

During the visit, Minister George Eustice MP was given a tour of McCain Foods’ Whittlesey factory in Peterborough. The minister spoke to engineering apprentices on site about their roles at the company then joined McCain Foods and Food and Drink Federation to discuss the importance of apprenticeships within the food and drink sector.

The visit forms part of a flurry of skills activity this week, following the publication of the food and drink industry’s Trailblazer standard for engineering apprenticeships. To mark the occasion, members of the Food and Drink Manufacturing Trailblazer group were invited to attend a reception at No.10 Downing Street to showcase apprentices’ huge contribution to UK businesses.

Food and Farming Minister George Eustice said:

From food production to science and engineering there’s a variety of career opportunities for young people to take up across the food and farming sector.

I’m working closely with industry to support new entrants so they can get the skills and experience they need through new courses and improved apprenticeship schemes.

The UK food and drink industry is worth over £90 billion per year and employs nearly four million people. All successful industries need new people coming in with fresh thinking and the food and farming sector is no exception.

Melanie Leech, Director General at Food and Drink Federation said:

This week has been jam-packed with activity and a visit like this is a great way to showcase the importance of skilled workers within our industry.

As the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, we recognise that to remain competitive and innovative, we need to attract the best talent. Apprenticeships are a great way to ensure the sector has a skilled workforce for the future. Not only will the company gain a valuable staff member with the talent to make a difference to the business, but the apprentice also gains the confidence, ambition and sense of value which goes hand-in-hand with earning a recognised qualification, inspiring loyalty and the drive to take their career further.

Bill Bartlett, Corporate Affairs Director at McCain Foods said:

We are delighted to share with the Minister the great work our McCain Engineering Maintenance Technician Apprenticeship Scheme is doing. Now in its second year, the scheme is working towards bridging the engineering sector’s skills gap by equipping students with the right education, skills and experience to progress them successfully within their engineering careers.

One of twelve signatories to Apprenticeship Trailblazers , McCain is pleased to be involved in developing new apprenticeship standards to support more young people in progressing their education and careers within the food manufacturing industry.

For more information:

  • Defra is working on policies to attract more people with the right skills and knowledge into the food and agricultural sector and worked with industry on a Future of farming review
  • The Food and Drink Manufacturing Trailblazers are: Arla Foods, Dairy Crest, First Milk, Fosters Bakery, Haribo, Mars, McCain Foods, Mondelēz International, Muller Dairy, Nestlé, Premier Foods, Thorntons and Unilever - supported by Food and Drink Federation, the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink, the Institution of Engineering and Technology and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.
  • National Apprenticeship Week from 3rd to 7th March is co-ordinated by the National Apprenticeship Service and is designed to celebrate Apprenticeships and the positive impact they have on individuals, businesses and the wider economy.
  • McCain Foods is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of frozen potato. A privately owned company based in Canada, McCain generates annual sales of CDN$7 billion, employs 18,000 people and operates in 51 production facilities across six continents. The company’s products can be found in restaurants and retail stores in more than 160 countries around the world.

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