Food And Drink Process Operator Apprenticeships

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, M&S, and Warburtons. 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 and the Advanced 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

Level 2 Food and Drink Process Operator Apprenticeship

The L2 Food and Drink Process Operator Standard 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, so food manufacturing apprentices will learn to operate machinery safely and efficiently. A food factory apprentice will also become familiar with health and safety practices and the importance of food safety. Working in food manufacturing involves teamwork; the apprenticeship helps apprentices develop good communication skills, enabling them to work well with their colleagues.

As part of the apprenticeship production line apprentices will study for an accredited qualification, called the Level 2 Diploma in Food and Drink Operations. The diploma underpins all the food production line training in the standard and covers core topics such as food safety and HAACP, maintaining product quality, health, safety and environmental standards. Employers and apprentices can also select an optional unit to tailor the diploma to suit their business.

Find out more about the end-point assessment (EPA) Download the Level 2 Food and Drink Process Operator Apprenticeship Standard

Level 3 Food and Drink Advanced Process Operator Apprenticeship

The Food and Drink Advanced Process Operator apprenticeship is designed for more experienced food manufacturing workers. They typically work on food production lines where their role is to maintain and improve productivity. Advanced Operators will develop an in-depth knowledge of food and drink products, health and safety systems, quality systems and Good Manufacturing Processes (GMP). Apprentices may also work in product development and have people management responsibilities. Completion of this advanced food manufacturing apprenticeship may enable progress into further technical or leadership roles.

As part of the apprenticeship advanced manufacturing apprentices will study for an accredited qualification called the Level 3 Diploma in Food and Drink Operations. It covers the knowledge and skills outcomes required in the standard, including: leading and developing teams; introducing and maintaining equipment and processes; contributing to audits and implementing quality systems.

Find out more about the end-point assessment (EPA) Download the Food and Drink Advanced Process Operator Apprenticeship Standard

Why are the new apprenticeship standards better than previous apprenticeships?

Firstly, all the new apprenticeship standards, including the Food and Drink Process Operator, 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 something called ‘end-point assessment’ or EPA. EPA 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.

Find out more about end-point assessment (EPA)

Food and Drink Process Operator Apprenticeship Funding

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 Advanced Process Operator is a Band 12 apprenticeship, carrying a maximum funding rate of £9000. 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, though now they need only contribute 5% of their apprentices training costs. 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. They are also free to choose their own end-point assessment organisation.