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    Apprenticeships

    How working the food industry can offer a wider range of careers and opportunity

    6 February 2023

    We have been catching up with some of our apprentices to talk about their career so far and what skills for life they have gained from the apprenticeship. I spoke to Jemma Green who is a Materials and Process Support Technologist. She is in her fourth year of the Food Industry Technical Professional Degree apprenticeship and currently works for Premier Foods in Stoke on Trent.

    Premier Foods have 15 sites across the country and supply retailers, wholesalers and food service with products from iconic brands. Part of Jemma’s role is to develop recipes for Mr Kipling and Cadburys, so you may have eaten one of her creations!

    Premier Foods is just one of almost 12,000 companies within the UK food manufacturing industry. The industry employs over almost half a million people across a wide range of roles including farming, manufacturing, packaging, marketing and so much more. As Jemma says:

    “People are always going to eat! Whether you are a farmer, marketeer or anything in between, there is a place for you in the food industry”

    Jemma’s role has evolved since she started the apprenticeship, from Business Improvement processing to her current role. She stepped into a different role as maternity cover, which has now evolved and she has taken on responsibilities for dealing with raw materials. She keeps regular contact with suppliers, so sees the raw materials from delivery through to the finished product.

    Jemma started in the food industry straight from school; she always knew she wanted to work in the industry; having grown up on a farm and then worked in a butchers and for caterers, she has always been around the food industry. She had applied for a full-time course at Harper Adams University and received an unconditional offer, but while she was completing her A-Levels, started to explore options for a degree apprenticeship. She found the role through the National Apprenticeship Website; it was the degree she wanted to do, at the university she wanted to go and just a few miles from home. Everything fell into place when she was successful in gaining employment at Premier Foods!

    I asked Jemma what skills for life she has taken from doing the apprenticeship:

    I am almost a completely different person, for the better”.

    Jemma has to developed her communication skills, confidence and interpersonal skills. She has had the opportunity to meet a wide range of people, from production workers to senior managers and directors. She has delivered presentations to DEFRA and has also become an apprentice ambassador for Tasty Careers, which has given her the opportunity to talk to students about the range of careers available within the food industry. This has included taking part in a video that is currently being shown at an exhibition at the London Science Museum. The exhibition is targeted at young people choosing their career paths.

    Jemma has also had the opportunity to complete a lead auditor course and is only the second person at their site to pass. She has also completed HACCP at level 4 while on the apprenticeship.

    Jemma felt she would not have the same level of experience and opportunity if she was on a full-time course at university. She will finish her apprenticeship next year and already have 5 years’ experience within the industry. She will have shown to her current and future employers that she is committed to learning and developing new skills, within a large employer and working with well known brands. I asked Jemma what skills she has learned from doing the apprenticeship; She said she has developed really good time management skills; learning how to juggle work, study and home life can be difficult but it will show future employers that she is prepared to work had to achieve goals.

    Jemma talked about her experience at Harper Adams University. She said she knew of the university from friends and family completing their degree here. She likes the ethos of the university; we are a specialist institution tackling the future development of our planet’s food production, processing, animal sciences, land management and sustainable business. Jemma said that lecturers know students by their name and the majority have worked within industry, so are able to relate their own experiences to their teaching. Jemma said that during the teaching weeks, she is able to learn the “text book” version but she can relate this to real examples and scenarios. She is also able to take on knowledge from the apprentices in her group, who are working at different companies and have had different experiences.

     

    To find out more about how the Food Industry Technical Professional Degree Apprenticeship can start or progress your career within the food manufacturing industry, get in touch.

    apprenticeships@harper-adams.ac.uk

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