The grocery industry has promised to offer more ­opportunities to young people on the back of this week's announcement that the apprenticeship process is to be simplified.

Both the Food and Drink Federation and the British Retail Consortium welcomed the government's package of measures to make it easier for companies with government contracts to train apprentices.

Payments will be simplified, contracts streamlined and a number of data returns and audit requirements will be eliminated as part of the new measures.

"Apprenticeships are a fantastic way of attracting talent and bring many benefits to businesses, including increased productivity and a motivated workforce," said Angela Coleshill, HR director at the FDF, which will shortly be unveiling details of its own pledge to boost the number of apprenticeship opportunities in food and drink manufacturing.

"In partnership with the Food and Drink National Skills Academy and the National Apprenticeship Service, FDF's pledge will help reduce the administrative burden for food and drink manufacturers."

BRC director general Stephen Robertson added: "This package of measures is very welcome. Simplifying the system should make the process easier for businesses and ensure more opportunities are created. The priority now must be to put these plans into action swiftly."