Holbeach food centre helps develop well trained staff for industry

Food-Factory-690x299A food manufacturing centre in Holbeach has been praised for meeting the needs of businesses by provided tailored training to staff.

As part of the University of Lincoln’s Holbeach campus, the National Centre for Food Manufacturing is a key training resource for food manufacturing businesses.

Following an inspection of Food Apprenticeships and English Language courses at the centre, education watchdog Ofsted inspectors concluded that “employers value highly the very good training their employees receive, which is designed carefully to meet the very specific needs of their businesses; excellent partnerships with a wide range of employers are at the heart of this successful provision.”

The food and drink industry represents the single largest manufacturing sector in the UK, with a turnover of £92billion each year.

It employs more than 400,000 workers, which is 16 per cent of the overall manufacturing workforce in the UK, and technical advancements within the sector make highly-trained staff increasingly valuable to employers.

The recent Ofsted report, which returned an overall rating of “good”, celebrated the fact that learners “successfully gain qualifications that have a very positive impact both on their own working conditions and job prospects, and on the effectiveness and efficiency of their employers’ businesses.”

Many students progress into more senior roles at work or continue their studies within higher education.

With a current body of 2,500 full and part-time students, the centre serves the UK’s largest concentration of food manufacturing businesses by providing purpose-built facilities, which include a product development kitchen, food manufacturing hall, conference rooms and food microbiology and chemistry analytical labs.

It works with local and national companies to undertake technical projects tackling some of the pressing challenges facing the food industry today, including new product development and factory automation.

Sharon Green, head of skills and work based learning at the centre, said: “We are really pleased with Ofsted’s assessment of our provision, which endorses the huge effort that both the university and employers put into raising skill levels to support the massive technical advances that are occurring in the sector.

“The inspectors were impressed with the level of skill and technology they observed.

“We are very appreciative of the great support we receive from local businesses and would like to take this opportunity to say ‘thank you’.’’

The centre has partnerships with a number of leading food manufacturing companies and plays a key role in supporting employers who wish to cultivate talent within their businesses, and develop their own food technologists.

The Bakkavor Group, which regularly uses the centre to support the development of their employees, welcomed the Ofsted findings.

Gillian Haythornthwaite, head of talent and development, said: ‘‘At Bakkavor we are committed to ‘growing our own’ people, and our apprenticeship scheme plays a fundamental role in achieving this.

“Our aim is to attract and develop young individuals who have the potential to set and drive industry-leading standards in key areas such as manufacturing and food technical.

“This means ensuring our apprentices have the necessary skill set and confidence to carry out their roles, and our successful partnership with the University’s National Centre for Food Manufacturing fully supports this.’’

Employers interested in learning about apprenticeships, or anyone seeking apprenticeship opportunities can contact Sue Long for more information, by emailing ncfm@lincoln.ac.uk.

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