A future skills shortage in the food and drink may be avoided after the industry was this week awarded a share of £40m of government funding to create its own National Skills Academy.
It is hoped the academy will train tens of thousands of young people and adults each year and play a key part in creating jobs, tackling skills shortages and driving up productivity.
It would be the industry’s equivalent of the Fashion Retail Academy, which opened this year under the leadership of Arcadia boss Philip Green, and will be managed by the industry’s sector skills council, Improve, and led by employers.
Companies will decide which training courses and qualifications are most relevant to the needs of the industry.
As the first national centre of learning to be dedicated to the sector, the academy will play a major part in addressing the skills gap within the existing workforce, said Improve chief executive Jack Matthews. “We’re confident that the UK can become the world leader in food and drink manufacturing productivity.”
Employers will be invited to sit on the board of governance, where they will set out priorities for the curriculum.
“Our plan is to have the academy’s infrastructure in place within the next three months and an online resource up and running within seven months. By September next year we expect to see at least five centres of excellence in place, offering relevant training and linking to the active online resource,” said Matthews.
Sub-sectors such as dairy, meat, seafood, bakery, brewing, confectionery, cereals and soft drinks could have their own specialist centres.
The industry was one of four sectors selected by the government to boost skills, along with manufacturing, construction and finance.