Skip to main content
Harper Adams University logo


    National Apprenticeship Week: Employer Tuesday

    6 February 2024

    We often hear from our apprentices about their experiences and achievements during their learning programme, but the employer also plays an equally important role in the success of any apprenticeship journey. As part of National Apprenticeship Week, we are focusing on employers and what they believe makes a good apprenticeship programme.

    Steve Moore, Head of Technical at Avara Foods (pictured), has been an advocate of apprenticeships since its inception at Harper Adams. He was part of the employer group that developed the apprenticeship standards for the Food Industry Technical Professional degree apprenticeship and continues to support the programme in the workplace.

    Ethan Aldous began his apprenticeship journey as a QA at their Brackley site, providing him with a foundational understanding of technical aspects in the poultry industry. Steve mentioned that each apprentice's journey is carefully planned to expose them to a wide range of experiences within their own site or when seconded to other sites. All apprentices start by learning the fundamentals.

    Steve highlighted one of the crucial points that allowed them to be flexible with the experiences offered to apprentices. In the first two years, the apprentices were additional to the staffing complement. This allowed them to be released for extended periods, gaining valuable experience and understanding of the business early on their apprenticeship journey.

    Steve noted that university graduates may have high career expectations, leading them into business-critical roles soon after joining. However, they generally lack knowledge of our industry, resulting in a steep learning curve, unnecessary stress, and the risk of leaving the business. The apprenticeship model enables Avara to employ individuals who attain both degree knowledge and specific industry experience.

    Apprenticeships are an integral part of succession planning within Avara, and Steve believes the programme has been successful. He regularly receives calls from recruitment agencies seeking candidates, but Steve informs them that they have a pipeline of future talent, eliminating the need to look outside Avara to fill internal technical vacancies. He attributes the investment in time and resources in apprentices within the technical team to identifying future managers and leaders in the business. The apprenticeship prepares them to handle various scenarios and manage people, making them valuable team members and managers.

    If Steve were to advise other employers on recruiting apprentices, he emphasized that the apprentice needs to be an addition to staffing requirements but a key part of a functions succession and talent planning. If they are employed in a crucial team role, they may not have as many opportunities to learn, develop, visit other sites, and be seconded to different areas.

    When asked about their criteria for recruiting apprentices, Steve stated that they look for individuals willing to get involved and develop their skills. This could be someone within the business wanting to advance their career or someone looking to start a career in the food industry. Vacancies are advertised on their website, so interested individuals should explore the available opportunities.

    For more information on the Food Industry Technical Professional Degree Apprenticeship at Harper Adams University, contact the apprenticeships team or join open days for further details.



    Cookies on the Harper Adams University website

    We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on the website. However, you can change your cookie settings at any time.