Specialised diploma courses for various manufacturing segments of the food industry will be created in the UK, part of a bid to increase the skills levels in the industry.
The manufacturing diploma will offer students the chance to gain a real understanding of the practical skills and knowledge required to work in the manufacturing sectors in the UK, say organisers.
They include Improve, an agency created by the UK government in July 2004 to address the shortage of learning and skills in the food and drink industry. The courses will be available in 2009 and will include work segments in the sectors involved in the programme.
The UK's food and drink industry has one of the most poorly qualified workforces in the UK, according to Improve. About 19 per cent of the sectors workforce has no qualifications, compared to the average of 11 per cent for the total UK workforce. One third of staff in the processing sector have no qualifications at all.
The new courses will be aimed at 14-19 year-olds and will involve a number of other manufacturing industries as well. In the food industry course participants will be able to gain diplomas in bakery, meat and poultry, food and drink manufacturing, and brewing and distilling.
"The diploma will provide the basic knowledge for all students wishing to gain an understanding of manufacturing practices and processes, whilst also offering the opportunity for the application of technical skills in a real work environment," course organisers say.
They are currently consulting with industry and other participants on the course programme and its implementation.
A special site, www.manufacturingdiploma.co.uk, has been created for potential employers and trainers who want to be involved in the programme.
The UK's food and drink manufacturing sector employs somewhere between 500,000 and 900,000 staff, or about 1.6 per cent of the total UK workforce.
Improve was established in 2004 by the Skills for Business Network and is sponsored by the UK's department for learning and skills.