A new range of courses designed to help small food and drink businesses in the north west is to launch in September.

The courses, which involve a combination of talks, tutorials, practical work and workplace study, will allow owners and managers to train in skills including leadership, internal quality auditing, food science, marketing and new product development.

The National Skills Academy for Food and Drink Manufacturing is working with Manchester Metropolitan University to develop the training.

"These courses are of the highest quality; accessible, relevant and responsive to the needs of smaller food and drink businesses. This will enable employers in the north west, small and medium enterprises in particular, to move to a higher level of productivity based on greater insight and knowledge," said Clare Keegan, opportunities and projects manager at the National Skills Academy and Improve, the sector skills council for food and drink.

"Whether it is a business that is experiencing problems because of the economic climate, one that is looking to expand into new markets or one that simply wants to upskill its staff, this type of development will benefit them."

Companies already involved include Swizzels Matlow, Goodlife Foods, Butt Foods, Bury Black Puddings and Richard Whittaker.

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