Food manufacturing apprentices work in one of the UK’s biggest and most dynamic industries – the food industry
Every day food manufacturers and retailers make and sell millions of food and drink products, not just in the UK, but around the world
The employers involved in the design of the food and drink process operator apprenticeships include household names, such as: Nestle, Morrisons and Bakkavor. Between them they’re responsible for making or selling much of the food we eat on a daily basis
The food and drink process operator apprenticeships are built to develop the skills needed by production line workers to produce our food safely and efficiently
Having the Level 2 Food and Drink Process Operator and the Level 3 Technical Operator apprenticeships means food manufacturers can offer real career progression for their employees and so keep those newly developed skills within their businesses. Scroll down to see what’s involved in each apprenticeship
The L2 Food and Drink Process Operator Apprenticeship is designed for food factory production line workers. The apprenticeship provides robust production line training in a competitive and sometimes high-risk industry. Modern food factories are highly automated, food manufacturing apprentices will learn to operate machinery safely and efficiently. A food factory apprentice will work under direct supervision and support the Technical Operator in the set up, changeover and shut down of food production lines.
Working in food manufacturing involves teamwork; this apprenticeship helps develop good communication skills, enabling apprentices to work well with their colleagues.
To support their off the job training employers may choose to enrol their process operator apprentices on the FDQ Level 2 Diploma in Food and Drink Operations. The diploma underpins all the food production line training in the standard. Employers and apprentices can also select an optional unit to tailor the diploma to suit their business.
The Food and Drink Technical Operator apprenticeship is designed for more experienced food manufacturing workers. They typically work with minimal supervision on food production lines where their role is to produce safe and compliant products. Using highly automated machinery, fault diagnosis, resolution and basic maintenance often form part of the role. Food safety is a key element of responsibility - monitoring HACCP, conducting risk assessments and completing traceability records.
Working as part of team as well as working with production line workers, the technical operator apprentice will interact with engineering, quality, R&D, and packaging teams.
They need to meet deadlines, productivity, efficiency, hygiene, and environmental requirements, and ensure the health and safety of self and others.
To support their off the job learning employers may choose to enrol apprentices on the FDQ Level 3 Diploma in Food and Drink Operations. This qualification covers the knowledge and skills outcomes required in the standard.
Firstly, all apprenticeship standards are 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. EPA is the name given to a series of tests that happen towards the end of an apprenticeship.
These tests are directly aligned to the skills and knowledge the employer group has requested for the standard. An apprentice who succeeds at end-point assessment has been independently tested to assure that they are work ready.
The L2 Food and Drink Process Operator is a Band 8 apprenticeship which has a maximum funding rate of £5000. The L3 Food and Drink Technical Operator is a Band 19 apprenticeship, carrying a maximum funding rate of £16,000. 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 employers (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 can now negotiate with their approved training provider, to get good value production line training that suits their business. It is also up to the employer to choose their preferred end-point assessment organisation.