Saturday, December 5, 2020

New degree level apprenticeship for food and drink industry

A Food Science and Technology Steering Group, led by the National Skills Academy for Food & Drink (NSAFD) has unveiled the Standard for the UK’s first degree level apprenticeship in Food Science and Technology.

In a move to address the UK’s current shortage of food scientists, the Food Science and Technology Steering Group, Chaired by Janette Graham from 2 Sisters Food Group, and comprising employers from Nestlé UK & Ireland, Cargill Meats, Dunbia, Branston, Produce World, Tulip, Oscar Mayer, Sainsbury’s and Princes, has spent nine months working with NSAFD to develop a Level 6 Food Industry Technical Professional Degree Apprenticeship Standard.

The food industry struggles to attract good food science graduates, however, these roles are critical in ensuring the industry can address issues such as reformation, sugar reduction and innovation. Research suggests that 25 per cent of food scientist and food technologist vacancies remain unfilled due to a lack of available talent.

Justine Fosh, Chief Executive of NSAFD, believes that without intervention, this situation will become critical: Currently the only recognised way to become a graduate food scientist is to attend full-time university. With the dwindling numbers of students studying the subject, the pipeline will not be sufficient to meet industry needs.  The development of this Standard is a direct response from the industry for the industry.”

The NSAFD is now giving food and drink businesses the opportunity to shape the Standard for the Level 6 Food Industry Technical Professional Degree Apprenticeship as part of a public consultation.

The Standard developed by the steering group describes the capability required by an apprentice by the time they have completed their apprenticeship – after approximately four years of working and learning in the industry.  It aims to particularly address the shortages of skilled staff in the occupations of Assistant Food Technical Manager, Quality Manager, Shift Quality Manager, Hygiene Manager, Product Innovation and Development Technologist – all roles vital to ensure the UK maintains its reputation as an innovator.

Justine Fosh, Chief Executive of NSAFD: “The steering group has been working very hard to make sure the Standard reflects the knowledge, skills and behaviours required of high performing technical professionals in the food industry, but we are now seeking views from other food and drink businesses to make sure the Standard is fit for purpose and reflects the needs of the wider industry. This is not just about solving the problems of one business or brand, this is out finding a sustainable solution for the industry as a whole, so we really would urge as many employers as possible to get involved and have their say.”

Janette Graham, Chair of the steering group and group technical learning and development manager at 2 Sisters Food Group, said: “The skills shortage issue faced by our industry is well known, but the time has come to start developing sustainable solutions to the problems we face.  If the UK is to maintain its position globally, we must create a pool of talent that is accessible to all.  This Standard sets out a proposition that we believe will be attractive to both employers and candidates.  For employers, it gets candidates through the doors much faster and guarantees that they develop skills appropriate for our industry.  For candidates, we believe we’ve pulled together a package that will be very attractive, offering on-the-job-training, a salary and the opportunity to undertake a degree with all fees paid.”

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