Media release: Scottish Bakers call on Scottish Government to recognise national food and drink training as vital to supporting growth, post-lockdown

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SCOTTISH Bakers, the association which represents the interests of bakery businesses throughout Scotland, has written to the Scottish Government to call for food and drink industry trainers and assessors to be recognised as ‘business critical key workers’ when it comes to supporting growth post-lockdown.

Scottish Bakers chief executive, Alasdair Smith said: “It is clear now that any return to normal activities will be slow as bakers and food manufacturers focus on rebuilding their activities to pre-crisis levels.

“We believe that the delivery of relevant apprenticeships that deliver improvements to efficiency and productivity presents an opportunity for training providers to deliver meaningful support and sustainability to businesses at a critical time, and we are calling on the Scottish Government to recognise and support this new environment for apprenticeships.”

Scottish Bakers believe there are a number of critical actions the Scottish Government must take to support efforts to regain some of the ground lost over the last few months:

  • A recognition of Food & Drink sector training providers as ‘business critical’ during this recovery phase. Ensuring Modern Apprenticeship workplace trainers and assessors have ‘key worker’ status will provide greater confidence to employers to permit necessary visits and also aid the upskilling of employees in business improvements, as well as ensuring that trainers have quick access to testing so that rapid action to self-isolate can be taken if required – all, of course, subject to maintaining the necessary distancing and hygiene practices [re-ordered the sentence]
  • The development of new financial incentives to employers to recruit and appoint apprentices onto programmes will be necessary to override an understandable emphasis on rebuilding production and sales capacity. This must be quick and easy to access.
  • It is necessary to re-examine the Modern Apprenticeship contribution rates as a means of preserving training capacity. Rates have remained unchanged for some years now while costs borne by providers have increased steadily, year-on-year. We believe, in particular, that the differential boundaries between age bands are no longer relevant in an environment where there will be significant and widespread disruption to employment across the economy.
  • Finally, training providers, especially those who have to date been unable to access any of the existing government financial support, need urgent protection from the financial losses they will accrue during this most extraordinary of years in order to preserve delivery capacity in years to come.

Added Smith: “Certainly the actions set out above would enable National Food and Drink Training (NFDT), the training arm of Scottish Bakers, to ride out the financial crisis brought about by the Coronavirus pandemic and enable us to preserve and protect our association and continue supporting Scottish food businesses.

“And we believe this would apply to many other providers. We are keen to re-activate our service as quickly as possible once businesses are ready to move on with their training and development plans, but we will not be able to do this as quickly without clear interventions and support from the Scottish Government.

“There is a clear urgency in this situation, and we would seek clarity and a definitive proposal for our consideration at the earliest opportunity.”

Notes for editors:

National Food and Drink Training (NFDT) is the training arm of Scottish Bakers, the trade association for the Scottish baking industry that has been supporting members since 1891.

NFDT is one of Scotland’s largest independent providers of Modern Apprenticeship training to the food and drink sector.

We are active in bakery, food manufacture, whisky, soft drinks, seafood and seafish, and dairy sectors. We deliver around 45 per cent of all Modern Apprenticeships in Scotland in food and drink manufacturing and production.

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