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BMet leads the charge in food and drink manufacturing skills excellence

A new food and drink manufacturing training academy has been established by BMet, with industry backing.

With help from the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) and Tulip Limited, the college has developed new facilities to support the sector’s growth.

Paula Cresswell, Business Development Director at BMet said: “Over 17,000 new jobs in food and drink manufacturing will be created between now and 2022, with 2,000 of these in the West Midlands. The sector also faces the additional challenges of an ageing workforce.

“Our aim is to help drive ambitions for growth and innovation by improving workforce skills and encouraging employer collaboration. This will lead to the development of further training programmes to support productivity and efficiency needs.”

Over 30 apprentices are currently studying a food and drink engineering maintenance (FDEM) trailblazer qualification at James Watt College, with 240 learners, a combination of apprentices, jobseekers and students on university level programmes expected to begin qualifications over the next 12 months.

Justine Fosh, Chief Executive of the National Skills Academy for Food & Drink added: “Having worked closely with BMet on industry updates and to support their funding bids, we look forward to seeing the progress they make in shaping our future skills landscape. BMet has already reached out to employers leading on the food and drink manufacturing apprenticeship training framework, which is an excellent endorsement of all the work they are doing.”

A successful GBSLEP funding bid has resulted in BMet sourcing new advanced manufacturing equipment for apprentices to use. A £25,000 allocation contributed towards the purchase of electrical maintenance and control system machinery and tools to train apprentices from Tulip Limited and Pladis UK.

Paula Cresswell continued: “The facilities funded by GBSLEP place us in a unique position from which to provide a simulated environment where apprentices and employees can upskill their food production and operational skills.”

Chris Loughran, Deputy Chair for Delivery, Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP), said: “We welcome the launch of BMet’s new food and drink manufacturing academy.

“We have identified the food and drink sector as one, in which the Greater Birmingham region has a competitive advantage – offering the potential to deliver a high number of jobs and attract a high level of foreign direct investment.

“By providing the funding equivalent of 19 new apprenticeships at the college, we are continuing the ambitions set out in our Strategic Economic Plan to improve skills across Greater Birmingham and increase the percentage of the working age population with NVQ Level 3 or above by 2025.”

Training for apprentices will be supplemented by a series of food preparation and safety courses aimed at helping jobseekers gain employment. The college has been an accredited specialist provider with the National Skills Academy for Food & Drink since June 2016.

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