The UK’s first ever Degree Apprenticeships specifically designed for the food industry have officially launched, with one of the first cohorts of apprentices being welcomed to their studies by Government minister, the Rt Hon John Hayes CBE MP.
Hosted by the University of Lincoln’s National Centre for Food Manufacture in Holbeach, South Lincolnshire, the Food Industry Technical Professional Degree Apprenticeship has been developed by food industry employers in partnership with universities. It aims to help address an acute shortage of Technical, Quality and New Product Development Managers in the sector, and to attract young people into the industry by providing appealing degree-level career opportunities as food technologists.
Students at NCFM
Students at NCFM

Beginning their studies this month, 40 students from a variety of food businesses across the UK have commenced their Higher and Degree Apprenticeships at NCFM, with most funded through the new apprenticeship levy.

The new Degree Apprenticeships are designed to deliver the higher level skills needed by the food manufacturing sector. NCFM secured a share of the Government’s £4.5 million Degree Apprenticeship Development Fund to deliver the new apprenticeships in collaboration with Sheffield Hallam University and the National Skills Academy Food & Drink (NSAFD).

To recognise the landmark moment for the industry, the Rt Hon John Hayes CBE MP visited the Holbeach campus on Friday 15th September to congratulate and welcome the new cohort as they embark on their latest venture. Mr Hayes is the MP for South Holland and The Deepings and the Minister of State at the Department for Transport. He said: “Having championed apprenticeships in Government and before, I am delighted with the latest developments at the Holbeach campus, which I have known and supported since its beginning. The students and those from whom they are learning have my warm best wishes.”

Along with the Food Industry Technical Professional Degree Apprenticeship, NCFM is delivering Degree Apprenticeships for Food Industry Managers via the Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship, which will soon be followed by Degree Apprenticeships for Food Engineers and Operations Managers.

Professor Val Braybrooks MBE, Dean of the University of Lincoln’s National Centre for Food Manufacturing, said: “The food and drink industry represents the single largest manufacturing sector in the UK. The sector is highly innovative and is already adopting many advanced technologies, which require ready access to higher level skills – new Degree Apprenticeships are specifically designed to address this need.

“We are delighted to welcome our first cohort of apprentices onto the Food Industry Technical Professional Degree Apprenticeship, which offers high quality workplace training complemented by part-time, flexible degree level study. We are pleased that this course attracts young talent as well as rewarding and enhancing the skills of existing employees. For everyone here at NCFM, and our employers, it represents an exciting opportunity to support the next generation of food industry leaders.”

Sponsoring employers include ABP Food Group, Bakkavor, Moy Park, Jakeman’s Confectioners, OAL, Tulip Ltd and 2 Sisters Food Group.

Cian Short, Group Apprentice Manager for Bakkavor, said: ‘‘At Bakkavor we want our apprentices to have the best access to high quality provision and the right courses. Having Higher and Degree Apprenticeships specifically developed for the sector means that from day one our apprentices receive learning and development which is just right for them. As a group, we are sponsoring a number of our employees on apprenticeships from Level 2 to 6 and are pleased to be able to support the development of Degrees Apprenticeships including the proposed Level 7.”

Samantha Gornall, Apprenticeship and Training Coordinator from Tulip Ltd, said: “Degree and Higher Apprenticeships are one of the ways we can bring in and nurture talent in our business and as a company we are delighted to have helped facilitate this important development.”

Marsha Myles, Apprenticeship Manager from Moy Park, said: “At Moy Park we have been impressed with the quality of applicants we have received for the Degree Apprenticeship. It is important for Moy Park and the industry to invest in these skills to ensure continued growth of the food sector and to work hand in hand with universities to develop new young talent of the future.”

Janette Graham, Apprenticeship Manager at 2 Sisters Food Group who led the development of the Food Industry Technical Professional Degree Apprenticeship with fellow employers, said: “The Technical Professional Degree Apprenticeship exemplifies what can be achieved when employers and universities are able to work together in this way. Its launch is a major step forward for the industry and I am pleased that employers, who have invested so much of their time in developing these new apprenticeships, and their apprentices will now be able to benefit.”

Employers and students wishing to find out more about Degree Apprenticeships are invited to contact or phone on 01406 493000, or contact the National Skills Academy Food and Drink via