5th April 2011, 5:34pm
National Skills Academy launches Food and Drink sector first at University
NSA logo The University of Lincoln’s Holbeach campus will be hosting the inaugural meeting of a new group being set up by the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink as the University takes on the role of Fresh Produce Champion.

Fresh produce companies are being invited to help shape skills policy and practice in the sector by joining this new employer steering group, which will meet for the first time on 11 May.

The group is being set up by the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink to give employers a forum in which they can highlight priority areas for training in their businesses and play a direct role in shaping future skills development.

Louise Codling, the National Skills Academy’s skills consultant for the fresh produce sector, said: “Fresh produce is a vitally important sector of the food industry and the National Skills Academy has been working hard to support its growth by ensuring high-quality training is available that meets employers’ needs.

“We are already developing a dedicated network of specialist training providers with proven expertise in the fresh produce sector. The steering group will complement this by bringing employers together and giving them an open forum to discuss skills needs, how they are currently met and how they can be improved. The aim is to create a working group which will have a direct influence over the way training is provided.

“We believe firmly that meeting the real business needs faced by employers should be at the heart of any approach to skills and training, and that means getting employers directly involved in development and provision.”

Professor Val Braybrooks, Dean and Director of the National Centre for Food Manufacturing, said: “The NSA network facilitates a strategic approach to the development of skills and sharing of good practice which aims to bring major benefits to the food sector nationally. Our mission at the National Centre for Food Manufacturing is to play a key role in advancing skills for the food sector and this is an area where you would expect Lincolnshire to be at the helm, with fresh produce at the heart of Lincolnshire farming and food manufacturing.

“We are delighted to able to use expertise gained on the skills agenda with employers in Lincolnshire to benefit the sector nationally as Fresh Produce Champions through the NSA’s network, whilst learning from the vast experience of providers and employers from across the UK who are members. This is such an important agenda for the sector and we are very pleased to be able to contribute in this way.’’

Louise added that she wanted the group to include representatives from right across the fresh produce sector spectrum. “It is important that the group is a fair representation of the fresh produce world as a whole,” she said. “We want it to be all inclusive from wholesale to manufacturing and processing. Large businesses to sole traders, everyone is welcome.”

The steering group’s first meeting is scheduled for May 11 at the University of Lincoln’s Holbeach Campus, the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink’s champion provider for fresh produce.

To become part of the steering group or find out more information, contact Louise at louise.codling@improveltd.co.uk or call 07827345110.

For more information about the National Centre for Food Manufacturing visit http://www.lincoln.ac.uk/holbeach/
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