President of the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) and CEO and Chairman of NestlÃ© UK and Ireland, Dame Fiona Kendrick, has announced a pledge to treble apprenticeships in the food and drink industry and grow value-added food and drink exports by a third by 2020.
Announced at FDFâs Presidentâs Reception, the new pledge will see the total apprenticeship workforce in the sector increase from 1% to 3% against a 2013/14 baseline. The target builds on an existing pledge to increase the number of higher-level apprenticeships by 20% by 2017 and other sector-wide initiatives to address a looming skills shortage.
The export target to grow value-added food and drink exports by a third would achieve a total value of £6 billion by 2020.
Speaking at FDFâs annual Presidentâs Reception in London last night, Dame Fiona Kendrick said:
Increasing the number of apprenticeships and growing exports are key ambitions for our industry. We have made excellent progress against each of our strategic priorities this year and our new pledge is a significant commitment from Britainâs largest manufacturing sector to help drive up British productivity and economic growth.
The event was attended by food and drink manufacturers, MPs and other stakeholders, as well as guests of honour, Liz Truss, Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills.
Highlighting the launch of the Great British Food Unit which is going to be to be set up next year to boost exports, support investment in skills and increase the number of protected products, Secretary of State Sajid Javid said:
Food and drink is exciting in many ways and itâs a hugely important industry to our economy. That is why I want to make sure as government that weâre doing everything we possibly can to support it.
Environment Secretary Elizabeth Truss said:
We want food and farming to be a top destination for high-flying graduates, as prestigious as medicine, as fun and stimulating as the gaming industry and as cutting-edge as Londonâs Tech City. By championing the latest technology, building skills and creating jobs and apprenticeships we will create a stronger brand for British food and drink that will see more of our quality produce enjoyed at home and exported around the globe.
We want to encourage even more young people to launch careers in our booming food and drinks industry and rise to the sectorâs new challenges. I welcome this pledge to treble apprenticeships which matches our commitment to triple the number of food and farming apprenticeships.