Landmark for Food Manufacturing Skills as Premier Foods’ Apprentices are the First to Make the Grade

Five Premier Foods Apprentices have become trailblazers in the truest sense of the word by becoming the first ever to undertake End Point Assessment (EPA) for the Level 3 Advanced Food & Drink Process Operator Apprenticeship Standard. Following a comprehensive apprenticeship programme, which included extensive on-the-job and off-the-job training delivered by industry experts CQM T&C, specialist Food and Drink End Point Assessment Organisation – Occupational Awards Limited (OAL), has confirmed the apprentices have completed EPA and therefore have finished their apprenticeship.

The Apprentices will now receive formal certification of their success from the Institute for Apprenticeships, the independent body responsible for maintaining the quality of Apprenticeships.

Thomas Hawkridge (20), Rowan Kenny (21), Mitchell Lax (24), Antonia Oakley (21) and Christopher O’Grady (22) also gained OAL’s OFQUAL regulated Level 3 Diploma in Food and Drink Operations, broadly equivalent to A Levels, as an integral part of their Apprenticeship journey.

“Their achievement is all the more notable in signalling the first fruits of food and drink manufacturing’s drive to shape the apprenticeship reform agenda around the industry’s true needs with the focus being very much on quality,” said Justine Fosh, Group Chief Executive for OAL and the recognised skills body for the UK, the National Skills Academy for Food & Drink (NSAFD).

“Supported by the Academy, food and drink manufacturing was quick off the mark in collaborating to revise core industry apprenticeship standards and ensure their combined alignment with the spread of knowledge and skills businesses really want. Premier Foods was among the first to pioneer use of the resulting apprenticeships — getting on board with this first pilot group just before the Apprenticeship Levy was actually introduced. As a result the company is seeing results first.

Julie Harris, Apprenticeship Programme Manager at Premier Foods, said the Level 3 apprenticeships are part of a succession strategy at the Worksop site to ensure technical skills are retained as many long-serving staff near retirement age. A second wave of five apprentices has successfully completed the first year of their programme and the company is already supporting a third cohort.

“As this was the first-ever End Point Assessment of candidates actually working to the new Level 3 standard, it was a new experience for everyone involved, including the training providers, line managers and the apprentices — all of whom are in their early twenties and were specifically recruited onto the dedicated Apprenticeship programme,” said Julie.
End Point Assessment and delivery of the standard wasn’t just a new experience for Premier Foods, as Keith Bailey, Operations Director at CQM T&C explained “The apprentices at Premier Foods, Worksop were CQM Training & Consultancy’s first cohort to undertake the End Point Assessment process. As an organisation, we are delighted with the results, and the significant achievement made by this group of Young Apprentices. They joined Premier Foods with very little industrial knowledge, and their journey to gaining an industry recognised apprenticeship and qualification has been facilitated by Premier Foods team of mentors, who offered support and guidance along the way.” Keith Bailey, Operations Director CQM Training & Consultancy Ltd.
In reference to the support provided by OAL in preparation for EPA Julie Harris commented “Prior to the Assessment, OAL took the time to explain the process which involved a question paper, a continuous improvement presentation, an interview and an unprompted assessor observation of apprentices, demonstrating their learning on site in their normal day to day work.

“I know some companies have been uncertain about exactly what the Assessment involves. Some of our candidates were naturally apprehensive before they heard the details, but OAL brought us as the employer, our training provider and the candidates together to explain how everything would work and ensure there were no misunderstandings. I think that was incredibly useful. Everyone was on the same page and the candidates were put at ease and comfortable in showing themselves at their best.”

OAL has now incorporated an End Point Assessment Experience Day into their information support available for businesses with Level 3 apprenticeships nearing completion.

“We went to great lengths to ensure the Assessment wasn’t obtrusive or disruptive to the normal working patterns of the site or the candidates,” said OAL Group Chief Executive Justine Fosh. “As with anything new, we think it is important for everyone to understand exactly what is involved. We are more than happy to hear from any food or drink company that believes they, or their apprentices, might benefit from hearing more of the fine detail of how the Assessment is undertaken.”

Premier Foods currently has 80 apprenticeships underway across various areas of its business. The two-year Level 3 training programme for the Advanced Operator Apprenticeship was delivered by specialist training company CQM Training & Consultancy Ltd who have been on the NSAFD’s register of industry-approved training providers for over 10 years.

About Premier Foods
We are one of Britain’s biggest listed food companies employing over 4,000 dedicated colleagues at 15 sites and offices up and down the country. Around 96% of what we sell is made in the UK from quality ingredients and wherever we can is sourced sustainably from British suppliers and farmers.

Food products produced at Premier Foods’ Worksop site include Batchelors, Bisto, Homepride, Loyd Grossman, OXO, SAXA and Sharwood.