Food & Drink Industry Training

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John Stevenson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that students develop adequate skills to meet the needs of food and drink employers throughout the UK.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to ensure that the Lifetime Skills Guarantee meets the needs of food and drink employers.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department has made an assessment of the potential merits of adding food and drink courses to the list of Level 3 qualifications available under the Lifetime Skills Guarantee.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to improve access to training opportunities in the food and drink industry through the Government’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee.

Gillian Keegan: The Skills for Jobs White Paper, published in January 2021, sets out our blueprint to reform post-16 education and training. It is focused on giving people the skills they need in a way that suits them so they can get good jobs in all sectors, including the food and drink industry.

A range of provision is already available for people of all ages to equip them with the skills and experience they need to progress in their chosen careers, including traineeships, which provide unemployed young people with employability training and work experience.

We have also launched T Levels, which are a high-quality technical alternative to A levels. With longer teaching hours and a meaningful, 45-day minimum industry placement, employer-designed T Levels will be excellent preparation for skilled work or further training. The T Level catering pathway will be launched in 2023.

There are a variety of high-quality apprenticeship standards in food and drink manufacturing available for employers to use. They include, but are not limited to, food and drink advanced engineer, baker and senior culinary chef.

Through the free courses for jobs offer, as part of the Lifetime Skills Guarantee, we are making courses available that address skills need in the economy, offer good wage outcomes and empower adults with the tools they need to secure a better job.

We have identified hundreds of courses that can give adults the skills they need in the labour market. These qualifications include those that can support employers regardless of their sector, including those in the food and drink industry, with courses in business, accountancy, engineering, marketing and a variety of digital qualifications. We are keeping the list of qualifications and the sector subject areas in scope under review and will consider requests for including courses that meet the published criteria. We have already added more qualifications to the original list. Those qualifications met all the criteria published on GOV.UK.

Qualifications not included in this offer will still be eligible for Advanced Learner Loans (ALL). ALL are income contingent loans that provide extensive coverage of regulated qualifications from level 3 to level 6, helping to meet up front tuition fees. In the 2019/20 academic year, there were applications to study at nearly 450 training providers, and over 3000 qualifications are currently in scope.

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