Improve hails apprenticeship reforms

Improve, the food and drink sector skills council, has welcomed the unveiling of a raft of government measures aimed at boosting apprenticeship numbers by 90,000 in England.

Improve, the food and drink sector skills council, has welcomed the unveiling of a raft of government measures aimed at boosting apprenticeship numbers by 90,000 in England over the next five years.

Jack Matthews, chief executive of Improve, said: "This is great news for the food and drink manufacturing sector. We have argued for a long time that apprenticeships are key to plugging skills gaps and driving growth in the sector - the ambition is to see turnover increase by a third over 10 years. We have said all along that putting employers at the heart of apprenticeships is the key to guaranteeing success.

"Initiatives announced on Monday, such as offering subsidies to smaller businesses to take on apprentices and opening the door for businesses to have their own in-house training accredited as part of the scheme, will help strengthen employers' trust in apprenticeships. In the food and drink manufacturing industry, apprentice numbers had fallen away to near insignificance six or seven years ago, but after implementing changes in response to employers' needs, numbers are very much on the up again. We are now forecasting a five-fold increase in numbers by 2012."

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