Food & Drink | NewsPremier Foods
First rate apprenticeships for Premier Foods
It is 18 months since CQM Training & Consultancy started delivering the new Food Process Operator Apprenticeship (Level 3) for Premier Foods, one of the first of its kind in the country.
At its Worksop operation, Premier Foods, which produces Oxo, Bistro, Sharwoods, Home Pride and Bachelor’s Supernoodles products, now has 10 apprentices on the two year programme, with a further five due to be recruited to start in September this year.
Premier Foods has a well-established workforce with a very low staff turnover. The company realised it had to act to prevent a skills shortage within its workforce and therefore decided to invest in recruiting and training its own home-grown talent for the future. The company was one of the first food manufacturers to offer the Advanced Food Operator (Level 3) Apprenticeship when it was introduced in 2016. Premier Foods planned to integrate a number of fully qualified technical operators into its workforce to replace any staff when they are due for retirement in the next few years.
CQM Training & Consultancy’s role was to deliver and assess the whole apprenticeship programme. This started with the recruitment of the apprentices, all of which have been retained to date. Mentors from CQM Training & Consultancy spend a day with the apprentices on site every week to deliver a combination of knowledge input, coaching, assessment and assignments.
Premier Foods strongly believes in supporting its apprentices to enhance their learning and ensure any issues they may have can be addressed. Every apprentice has an excellent support structure in place, which includes a line-side coach, who they work alongside every day, plus a mentor from Premier Foods and from CQM Training & Consultancy. Each apprentice also has a monthly one-to-one meeting with the HR & Training Business Partner at Premier Foods to check on their progress.
There is also a monthly meeting between the senior management team and the mentors where they are given feedback from the coaches on how the apprentices are progressing. Any communications or development work needed can be escalated back to the apprentices to help them improve or guide them into further learning.
The apprenticeship scheme is backed by Premier Foods’ management, who have agreed that apprentices can be given extra time “offline” should they need it. This ensures that learners can effectively complete coursework and assignments and can involve them spending time at the company’s training centre, whilst being coached by their mentors
“We’re really pleased with the success of this Food Process Operator apprenticeship programme with Premier Foods. Its success has undoubtedly been down to the outstanding support that each apprentice receives, as our Business Change Facilitator and Premier Foods trainers and mentors work together in partnership to support the apprentices through their whole journey.”
Premier Food believes that apprenticeship programmes are starting to appeal to more young people as they recognise how they can gain a qualification, whilst being paid and completing their studies debt free. Jennifer adds: “What apprentices also bring to the business is a fresh approach, they question how and why things are done and can come up with their own innovative ideas. They appreciate all the support that they receive from our team here. After the two-year course, they know there is a very good chance of a long-term career at the end of it.”
This has been a trailblazing programme and Premier Foods has worked closely with CQM Training & Consultancy to ensure the scheme is a success.
There is still work to be done to attract new talent into the food manufacturing industry, however, with the mentoring and support that companies like CQM Training & Consultancy can offer through quality apprenticeships programmes, these apprentices certainly seem to have a bright future.
With a robust training and development programme across the business, Premier Foods employs apprentices in many different areas, including engineering, technical and human resources. Demonstrating its commitment to training and development, Premier Foods has also recently introduced a group management development programme.
CQM Training & Consultancy offers a wide range of apprenticeship programmes, specialising in food manufacturing and the manufacturing sector. The company provides Continuous Process Improvement, Management Development and Levy Training Needs analysis.
“The apprenticeship programme will have significant benefits for our business as we’ll have a clear succession plan in place. We expect to see savings in recruitment costs, as we will have people trained and ready to step into roles when operators are reaching retirement.
When they come to have a look around here, young people tell us it is totally different to what they expected. Our apprentices are really excited to start work and it is so satisfying as a business to be able to offer them not only an apprenticeship, but also a clear long term career pathway – possibly leading into management development. The opportunities are there, if they want them.”