Food and Drink Maintenance Engineer Apprenticeship
The food industry is an exciting place to be a maintenance engineer. Food processing in modern food production systems involves using cutting edge machinery to manufacture a wide variety of food and drink products. Maintenance engineers maintain and improve machinery and equipment, find and resolve faults, test and commission – all with the aim of maximising efficiencies on production lines.
Food companies employ mechanical maintenance engineers or multi-skilled maintenance engineers, depending on the type of products they produce. Both work with mechanical and electrical equipment, but multi-skilled maintenance engineers also maintain highly automated programmable control systems.
As the food industry is highly regulated, maintenance engineers must also ensure all their maintenance tasks comply with food safety legislation and are conducted safely.
Food and drink maintenance engineers work autonomously but also as part of a wider factory team.
The apprenticeship is set at level 3 and typically takes between 42-48 months to complete, with end-point assessment (EPA) taking place in the last 12 weeks. Apprentices are required to achieve a Level 3 Diploma in Food and Drink Engineering Maintenance before taking their EPA.
It is also recommended that maintenance engineer apprentices achieve the following additional qualifications during their apprenticeship:
Why are the new apprenticeship standards better than previous apprenticeships?
Firstly, all apprenticeship standards, including the food and drink maintenance engineer, are now developed ‘by employers for employers.’ Nobody knows better what is needed in a job role than the employers themselves. Secondly, one of the biggest changes is that apprentices now don’t automatically qualify after ‘serving their time’. They need to prove their new skills at ‘end-point assessment’ or EPA. End-point assessment is the name given to a series of tests that happen towards the end of an apprenticeship. Apprentices must succeed at end-point assessment to achieve their apprenticeship.
Food and Drink Maintenance Engineer Apprenticeship Funding
The food and drink maintenance engineer apprenticeship is in band 30, meaning it carries a maximum funding rate of £27,000. Funding for apprenticeships is either via co-investment with government or the apprentice levy.
Large food manufacturers (with a wage bill over £3million pa) fund their apprenticeships through the levy. The levy is collected by HMRC at a rate of 0.5% of a business’s monthly wage bill.
Smaller food manufacturers (with an annual wage bill below £3m) fund their apprenticeships through co-investment with government. Employers only contribute 5% of their apprentices training and end-point assessment costs, with government funding the remaining 95%, up to the funding band maximum. For employers with less than 50 employees that 5% is waived if their apprentice is between 16-18 years or between 19-24 and has a local authority education, health and care plan or has been in the care of a local authority.
All employers are now able to negotiate with their approved training provider to get good value training that suits their business. They are also free to choose their preferred end-point assessment organisation.
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