Food & drink bosses take on Apprentice for a Day challenge

04/03/2024
The CEOs during their Apprentice for a Day experience. Clockwise in top left is Sarah Millar at Scott Brothers, Iain Baxter at Kettle Produce, David Thomson at Devro and Donna Fordyce at Associated Seafoods

BOSSES of leading food & drink organisations have gone back to the workfloor to experience life as an “apprentice for a day”.

Senior representatives from sector membership bodies such as Scotland Food & Drink, the Food & Drink Federation, Quality Meat Scotland and Seafood Scotland got a hands-on experience reflecting the type of tasks taken on by an apprentice.

They acted as an apprentice a day within a member business, meeting other team members and exchanging ideas and views along the way. It’s part of a campaign to highlight the importance of apprenticeships as a way to attract and retain a highly skilled workforce.

One of those who rose to the challenge was Scotland Food & Drink CEO Iain Baxter.

He said: “Apprenticeships are incredibly important for the food and drink industry, which employs around 125,000 people in Scotland. It’s also our largest manufacturing sector so we always need new people coming through.

“Apprenticeships are vital to bring talent into the sector and to upskill the existing workforce. What I find astonishing is the sheer breadth of routes that you can take from being an apprentice onto other roles. You really can work in any part of a business.”

Iain visited vegetable grower and processor Kettle Produce in Fife, where he became an engineering apprentice for the day.

Meanwhile, Food & Drink Federation Scotland CEO David Thomson also took the technical route when he became a maintenance engineering apprentice at Devro in North Lanarkshire.

“I learned a huge amount about the work that’s carried out by an apprentice electrician which gave me a fascinating insight into the expertise and knowledge that is gained through this route into the workforce,” he said.

His guide for the day was Kyle Nielson, a final year apprentice and former winner of Scotland Food & Drink’s Young Talent award.

Kyle said: “I’ve found my apprenticeship to be a good transition from school into the actual workplace. And having David as my apprentice for the day was a great success – he has a lot of potential if he chooses to become an engineer!”

Elsewhere, Quality Meat Scotland CEO Sarah Millar visited Scott Brothers in Dundee, where not only did she learn how much skill is involves in linking fresh sausages, she deboned a carcase and served up the finished products with a smile in the shop.

Seafood Scotland CEO Donna Fordyce was in Buckie for the day, where she joined the technical team and management apprentices at Associated Seafoods as they prepared the nation’s famed premium salmon and shellfish.

There are over 100 types of apprenticeships available in Scotland, from business admin to digital marketing, food & drink operations to procurement.

The Apprentice for a Day project is being documented in a series of short videos that underline the importance of apprenticeships.

The videos are being released to coincide with Scottish Apprenticeship Week 2024, a nationwide celebration of apprenticeships from 4 to 8 March. The week aims to promote the benefits of work-based learning to people, employers and Scotland by emphasising that apprenticeships create the skills every generation needs and every employer wants. This year’s campaign shows that apprenticeships give people high-quality opportunities.

Other representatives taking on the challenge in coming weeks include Tavish Scott, CEO at Salmon Scotland, and Scottish Bakers boss Lesley Cameron.

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