Tulip, Dawnfresh and Produce World are among food and drink manufacturing and processing companies participating in a scheme the National Skills Academy for Food & Drink is rolling out to help find new local recruits.

The industry skills body has designed the Tasty Jobs programme to help companies struggling to hire local people with basic sector skills and experience.

A pilot towards the end of last year saw more than 500 people gain long-term permanent positions with local food and drink companies.

The free scheme trains jobseekers in basic skills such as food safety and the production and job knowledge specific to participating companies.

Companies must agree to host the training, during which candidates lose no benefit entitlement. Participating businesses have to guarantee a job interview to all trainees who successfully complete the course but they are free to decide whether or not to make a formal job offer.

Justine Fosh, the Skills Academy’s chief executive, said: “Tasty Jobs solved the problem of finding people living nearby with the right skills and work experience to make an immediate impact.

“As training takes place, trainees get to know whether the company is one they would like to commit to, and businesses get a far more realistic picture of a prospective employee than they can get in a typical job interview.”

Fosh added the scheme resulted in lower staff turnover than might be the case with other recruitment routes.