Food and drink manufacturers are on course to double the number of apprentices they employ by the end of the year.

The FDF revealed the news at its Community Partnership Awards on Wednesday.

Speaking at the event, Tim Campbell, the first winner of BBC TV show The Apprentice, said the industry employed about 1,700 apprentices, but food and drink manufacturers had collectively pledged to double this to 3,400 by the end of 2012.

"Food and drink is the UK's largest manufacturing industry and it is important that it develops skilled people," said Campbell. "We need to create opportunities for young people to come in to the workforce."

The FDF event also saw the unveiling of its first Apprentice of the Year Kraft employee Calum Marnock, who won the accolade on the back of Kraft's Taste Success A Future in Food campaign.

A total of 25 awards were presented. Winners included Mars UK, Maloney's Retail Stores, Nestlé UK, Unilever UK & Ireland and William Jackson Food Group. CCE won two awards for its Education Centres and Festival Recycle Zones.

"We have been working to raise the profile of food and drink as a career and make sure young people know about the range of careers and prospects on offer in our industry," said FDF director of competitiveness Angela Coleshill.