National Apprenticeship Week

Bakkavor to recruit 40 new apprentices

Bakkavor's announcement coincides with National Apprenticeship Week (March 6–10)

Bakkavor has kicked off National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) by revealing it will take on 40 new apprentices this year in manufacturing, engineering, development and HR roles.

The chilled foods maker said successful applicants would experience “real responsibility” from day one, while studying towards a relevant, nationally recognised qualification”.

Bakkavor also claimed its apprenticeship scheme focused on the development of life skills by encouraging apprentices to get involved with local community projects and charity initiatives.

Nearly 90 young people have started their careers via the food firm’s apprenticeship scheme since 2012.

Running until Friday (March 10), NAW comprises a series of events aimed at encouraging more people to choose apprenticeships.

It coincides with chancellor Philip Hammond’s first budget, on Wednesday (March 8), in which he will address the anticipated skills shortage threat following the UK’s exit from the EU.

£500M-a-year plan

According to reports, Hammond is to unveil a £500M-a-year plan to elevate technical education to the same status as university education, while announcing 15 ‘T-level’ courses covering engineering and manufacturing, business and administration, catering and hospitality, construction and social care. 

Employers are also gearing up for the National Apprenticeship Levy, which comes into force on April 6.

Under the levy, companies with a wage bill of more than £3M will have to pay 0.5% of annual pay outgoings towards the scheme.

Bakkavor runs two apprentice schemes. The Advanced Apprenticeship scheme runs for one year and is aimed at school leavers, while the Higher Apprentice Scheme runs for two years and is aimed at those who have typically gained A-Level qualifications and are hoping to fast-track their career.

Premier Foods’s apprenticeship advice
  • Think long-term
  • Keep an open mind
  • Exploit opportunities to develop
  • Recognise your importance in the company
  • Don’t underestimate how exciting the food sector can be

As an exception, engineering is a four-year scheme.

“Apprenticeships are a great way to give young people the chance to gain real-world experience and responsibility within a range of environments, and we are committed to playing an active role in nurturing young talent in the food industry,” said Pippa Greenslade, HR director at Bakkavor Group.

Tips for young people

Premier Foods has marked NAW by offering a series of tips for young people interested in becoming apprentices (see box, right).

The government has set out a list of benefits for employers that take on apprenticeships (see box, below).

Ingredients maker Edme has used the week to highlight how some of its former apprentices are now filling full-time senior roles. These included site director Jason Powell, who started his career at the company on a Youth Training Scheme 30-years-ago.

Manufacturers’ organisation EEF has offered ‘10 key facts’ to raise awareness of the week.

Based on its own research, 72% of manufacturers claimed raising awareness of apprenticeships would get more young people into engineering, the EEF said.

Furthermore, 46% of manufacturers said they would increase their intake of engineering apprentices as a result of the new Apprenticeship Levy – while 35% said they would recruit apprentices in other areas.

Meanwhile, Unite the union has requested urgent talks with Bakkavor after it released plans to cut 300 jobs at its Welcome Foods ingredients plant.

Apprenticeships – key employer benefits
  • Qualified apprentices were 15% more employable than those with other qualifications
  • There were more than 250,000 employer workplaces with an apprentice in 2014/15
  • Apprenticeships boosted productivity to businesses by on average £214 per week
  • Apprenticeships enabled businesses to grow their skills base resulting in increased profits, lower prices and better products
  • 87% of employers were satisfied with their apprenticeship programme
  • 76% of employers said productivity has improved
  • Traineeships offered small businesses an opportunity to help build a pool of high-quality future recruits

Source: Department for Education Apprenticeship Core Brief – November 2016

Employers, schools, colleges and training providers can download toolkits containing National Apprenticeship Week event and activity suggestions.

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