Food and drink apprenticeship trial

Fourteen-year-olds from schools in Suffolk are among the first in the country to start a new, two-year Young Apprenticeship in Food and Drink Manufacturing.

The 25 pupils, from five secondary schools in the area, have started the programme. They are remaining at their schools to study core academic subjects, such as maths and English, while also learning practical skills at Otley College, and undertaking work experience with local employers.

The programme has been developed by Improve, the UK food and drink sector skills council, and is being managed locally by the South West Ipswich 14-19 Partnership, which is a collaboration between Chantry High School, Otley College and local employers. The partnership secured government funding earlier this year to offer the placements, and is one of only two in the UK that are trialling the programme, along with one at Nantwich in Cheshire.

Trudy Stannard, assistant head at Chantry High School, said: "This is the first time pupils at such a young age have been able to follow a recognised food and drink training programme while still at school, and we're privileged to be among the first in the country to trial it. The scheme will benefit everyone involved, giving students more flexible learning opportunities and good employability skills, and providing employers with a pool of high-quality potential recruits."

Terry Fennell, learning and frameworks manager at Improve, said: "We are still looking for more employers to get involved in the programme," he said. "It's a great opportunity for employers to raise their profiles among young people, who will hopefully be inspired to embark upon a career in food and drink."

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