The next generation of food entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to combine a high quality degree and on-the-job training under plans for new food degree apprenticeships, Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss announced on 12 April.
The three apprenticeships – spearheaded by the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink (NSAFD) – are being developed by a consortium of employers and industry representatives working to enhance the sector’s productivity. The creation of the degrees will help safeguard the UK’s position as a world leader in high-tech food innovation which has seen us give the world tinned food, fizzy water and the chocolate bar. Today the UK produces more new food and drink products each year than France and Germany combined.
Last year the Government announced a target to treble the number of apprenticeships in food and farming by 2020 and the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has estimated 109,000 new recruits are needed by 2022 in the food industry alone. Today the Environment Secretary brought together more than 30 food sector experts and employers to challenge the industry to provide more opportunities for young people.
The EU is a hugely important export market for British food and agriculture – around 60% of our food and drink exports go to EU generating around £11bn for our economy. Maintaining our world leading food and farming industry is dependent on continued access to the EU market with no barriers. Thousands of young people benefit from valuable apprenticeships across the EU through support from the European Social Fund and European Regional Development Fund, providing the bright new talent needed to deliver growth in the UK. The Government is doubling the annual level of spending on apprenticeships between 2010-11 and 2019-20 in cash terms to £2.5bn, which will be funded by the new apprenticeship levy.
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Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said:
“We have a proud heritage in food innovation – from Fry’s first ever chocolate bar to HP Sauce. Today we outstrip France and Germany when it comes to exciting new food and drink inventions.
“Food and farming should be a top career destination for our young people, as prestigious as medicine, as fun and stimulating as the gaming industry and as cutting-edge as London’s Tech City.
“We are already seeing more skilled workers enter the industry – rising faster than other areas of manufacturing – and these new degree apprenticeship schemes will provide an even brighter future in an industry that generates billions of pounds for our growing economy.”