Improve and the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink Manufacturing are relaunching a scheme to make training more accessible to women.

The Women and Work programme, which was first launched in 2006, will offer grants of £650 that can be used to help fund training, qualifications, short courses and coaching.

"The last Women and Work scheme was focused very specifically on subsidised management training. We are now in a position to take a more holistic approach to the broader issues women face in food and drink," said Liz Pattison, head of skills solutions at the academy.

The scheme has been divided into three strands: Women in Industry, Women in the Lead and Women in Business.

Pattison added that she hoped the scheme would help address gender imbalance in the industry. "Sectors such as dairy, oils and fats, and milling and starches are particularly dominated by men, and around a quarter of all women employed in food and drink work part-time compared with just 4% of men, which impacts progression into supervisory and management roles."

Training programmes costing a minimum of £750 will be eligible for grants under the scheme, but employers will be asked to fund the difference, as well as covering time, travel, accommodation, facilities and other resource costs of £900 per trainee.

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