Apprenticeships key to Scottish food and drink firms’ growth

The Scotch whisky industry has used apprenticeships to help it grow export levels but needs to keep recruiting new talent to maintain growth of the industry, according to a Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) report on employment in the sector.

“The outlook is positive for career prospects in the industry based on its continued success,” Rosemary Gallagher, the SWA’s communications manager told

“There are great opportunities in the next 10 to 20 years as new markets open up, such as the BRICs [Brazil, Russia, India and China]. And other emerging economies and mature markets, such as the US and France, will continue to grow.”

Apprenticeships in engineering, copper work and coopering (barrel-making) in particular were being offered by many firms in the sector as a way of attracting new talent in key positions, she added. All SWA member firms currently offer apprenticeships.

10,000 people

The Scottish whisky sector already directly employs 10,000 people and is responsible for the indirect employment of a further 35,000 in farming, tourism and logistical roles, among others, revealed The SWA Job Report.

An estimated £1bn has been invested in the sector over the past four years. Diageo alone has invested £600M over six years to increase production capacity. That includes a new malt distillery at Roseisle and a doubling of capacity at the Glenfiddich, Glenlivet and Macallan distilleries, said Gallagher.

“These examples show confidence in the future of the Scotch whisky industry,” she added.

The Scottish cabinet secretary for rural affairs and environment, Richard Lochhead said: “Scotland’s thriving food and drink industry needs the right people with the right skills to ensure its continued success. The modern apprenticeship programme is a great way to foster those skills in young people.”

Lochead commended potato grower and processor Greenvale on becoming the first fresh produce firm in Scotland to be approved as a modern apprenticeship centre by Improve Scotland, the skills council for Scotland’s food and drink industry.

Approval means the firm’s facility in Duns, on the Scottish border, can now verify the standards of its own apprentices without outside assessors such as colleges or private training businesses.

Improve director Justine Fosh said: “Greenvale approached us because they recognised the opportunity to both educate Apprentices in their business and assess progress against recognised industry standards.”

Apprenticeship training

“We were delighted to support them in this and would be happy to hear from other food processing companies that would like to demonstrate similar levels of commitment to high-quality apprenticeship training.”

Across the UK, over 2,000 candidates have enrolled on advanced level apprenticeship schemes for food manufacturing since 2009.

Meanwhile, for more information about the contribution of apprenticeships in UK food and drink manufacturing, make a date to attend our free Skills Seminar organised in conjunction with the Institute of Food Science & Technology

Intended for HR directors and managers, the free morning seminar will take place at the National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham on Monday March 26.

The event, which takes place alongside Food and Drink Expo and Foodex shows, will include presentations from the Food and Drink Federation on what is being done to raise the industry’s image; plus information on new training schemes; the latest manufacturing apprenticeship schemes; and a new transferable skills initiative.

For more information and to secure your place at this free event, contact Hannah Rosevear on Hannah.Rosevear.

Paul Champion
07540 704920

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Twitter: @champouk

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