Written Question: Apprenticeships in the Food & Drink Sector

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John Stevenson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to improve access to apprenticeships in the food and drink manufacturing sector.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he plans to take to promote careers in the food and drink manufacturing industry.

Gillian Keegan: Apprenticeships will have an important role to play in creating employment opportunities, particularly for young people, and in supporting employers in all sectors to access the skilled workforce that they need to recover and grow following the COVID-19 outbreak. We recognise that employers, at the moment, face increased challenges with hiring new apprentices and so we will introduce a new payment of £2,000 to employers in England for each new apprentice they hire aged under 25, and a £1,500 payment for each new apprentice they hire aged 25 and over, from 1 August 2020 to 31 January 2021. Details can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-treasury. We will also ensure that there is sufficient funding to support small businesses wanting to take on an apprentice this year.

We have introduced a broad range of flexibilities, including encouraging the remote delivery of apprenticeships, to ensure that apprentices can continue with their learning as far as possible and to support the continued take-up of apprenticeships: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-apprenticeship-programme-response/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-apprentices-employers-training-providers-end-point-assessment-organisations-and-external-quality-assurance-pro.

We work closely with employers and organisations in the food and drink sector, including the Food & Drink Federation, to promote the benefits of apprenticeships and we are supporting the National Skills Academy for Food & Drink’s plans to facilitate levy transfers between employers. In addition, we are arranging a series of webinars to update employers and intermediary organisations on the latest apprenticeship developments and to offer guidance to help employers make the most of our apprenticeship reforms and funding support offer. There are over 560 high-quality apprenticeship standards available for employers to use; a variety of these are in food and drink manufacturing including, baker, food and drink advanced engineer, and senior culinary chef.

It is important for young people to have information on a wide range of jobs and careers. It is also important for them to have encounters with a variety of employers in different sectors to inspire them about a broad range of opportunities and what they can achieve. The Careers & Enterprise Company is making sure that every young person has access to high quality and inspiring encounters with employers from a variety of sectors, which may include the food and drink manufacturing industry. The National Careers Service provides independent, professional advice on careers, skills and the labour market. Information on a variety of careers, including those in the food and drink manufacturing industry, can be found on the National Careers Service website.

HM Treasury will provide £32 million in additional funding to the Department for Education over the next two years. The funding will ensure that 269,000 more people in England will receive impartial and tailored information, advice and guidance to meet their individual needs and circumstances within the context of current economic circumstances. The careers advice provided will draw on labour market trends and growth areas including opportunities available in the food and drink manufacturing industry.

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