The sector has been awarded funding to develop one of the first four pioneering sector-specific skills academies. As the first national centre of learning dedicated to the food and drink sector, the academy will play a major part in addressing the problem of skills shortages in the labour market and skills gaps within the existing workforce, as well as setting new standards for other sectors to follow.
Jack Matthews, chief executive of Improve, commented: “By establishing an academy, which will bring more highly skilled workers into the sector, we're confident the UK can become the world leader in food and drink manufacturing productivity.
“Although Improve will manage its development, the academy will be led by employers, who will work to ensure that training courses and qualifications deliver key skills which are relevant to the sector’s needs.
“Employers will be invited to sit on a board of governance, where they will identify curriculum priorities to ensure the academy learning centres, known as Centres of Excellence deliver training which meets employers’ needs. The board will be headed up by a chancellor, whose role will be to champion the academy and raise awareness throughout the UK.
“We've secured the support of trade associations and hundreds of employers and we've worked to create an effective model for what will be a highly successful academy. Our priority now is to set the wheels in motion and work to make the model a reality, with the academy up and running by September 2006.
“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 2006, we expect to see at least five centres of excellence in place, offering relevant training and linking to the active online resource. From there the academy will continue to grow, as more employers become involved, more academy learning centres are established as part of the network, and further training resources are developed.
“The network may include centres for specialist sub-sectors such as dairy, meat and poultry, seafood, bakery, brewing and distilling, confectionery, milling and cereals, and soft drinks.”
Talks are also planned to take place with Cranfield University, a specialist postgraduate academic centre, and Oxford University regarding the provision of training and their involvement within the Centre of Excellence network. A number of companies that offer training programmes, such as F&A Foods and Coca Cola Enterprises have also been identified as potential key learning providers.
For more information. visit www.improveltd.co.uk