Meat industry not included in Government training proposals

Meat industry not included in Government training proposals

It has been revealed that the Department for Education’s £95 million ‘Lifetime Skills Guarantee’ scheme, which includes over 400 courses and qualifications, does not apply to the meat and food manufacturing sectors, sparking outrage from the Food and Drink Training and Education Council (ftc) and FDQ.

The new scheme offers adults without A-Levels a free, fully funded further education course which will start from April 2021.

Commenting on the new scheme, Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, said: “As we recover from the pandemic, we are focussed on making sure that individuals and businesses can build back better than before.

“Throughout our lives we may all need to boost our skills or gain new ones. These free qualifications will help open doors to better employment opportunities for thousands of adults and support businesses to access the workforce they need to grow.”

However, the Food and Drink Training and Education Council (ftc), along with the FDQ, have criticised the proposed qualifications for failing to include the meat processing and food manufacturing industries.

“We are seeing that the food industry is trying to respond by training more homegrown staff, so to remove funding from so many food industry qualifications seems again to be shooting ourselves in the foot.”

Terry Fennell, chief executive of the FDQ, said: “For the Department of Education to omit the food manufacturing sector from the Lifetime Skills Guarantee offer beggars belief, especially when considering the efforts and contribution from the whole industry during the pandemic.

“The food production industry is one of a very few sectors to work all the way through the pandemic with key worker status and yet the authorities have actually ‘de-listed’ many food technology qualifications that could and should be available for workforces to advance their careers free of charge utilising the Government funding.

“The food manufacturing sector needs all the help it can get in 2021, particularly when considering the impact of Brexit, which will make it difficult for the industry to utilise overseas labour, so it has never been more important for the food sector to train and develop workforces and especially younger employees wishing to progress. I am pretty sure respective food federations will also be spitting feathers at the thought of Government funding not being available for their workforces when for the past 12 months they have worked doubly hard to feed the nation.”

Bill Jermey, chief executive of ftc, added: “For many years, governments seem to overlook the fact that the food industry is this country’s largest manufacturing sector by far. Not only that but it employs a large majority of foreign workers – these numbers are dwindling and are likely to dwindle faster next year.

“We are seeing that the food industry is trying to respond by training more homegrown staff, so to remove funding from so many food industry qualifications seems again to be shooting ourselves in the foot.

“Yes, we have apprenticeships but there are many qualifications that, whilst previously had a low uptake, now would be very welcome for the food industry.”

The Government has announced that an appeal process to the list of courses will open in January 2021.

Photograph: Bill Jermey, chief executive of ftc.

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