By Daniel Hunter

The food and drink industry has today agreed to develop a new apprenticeship standard on Maintenance Engineering that builds on best practice in existing programmes, in collaboration with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

The Apprenticeship Trailblazer initiative launched today builds on the success of the Food and Drink Federation's (FDF) Apprenticeship Pledge and will help to create a more robust pipeline of talent for the industry while enabling employers to simplify the Apprenticeship system.

Recognising the need to increase the number of Apprenticeships available, the FDF pledge led to a quadrupling of Apprenticeship starts in England and Scotland last year. By implementing the Richard Review recommendations, the Trailblazer initiative now delivers on the industry's current focus on improving the quality of Apprenticeships.

BIS Skills Minister Matthew Hancock said: "I am very pleased that the food and drink industry has chosen to be at the forefront of our Apprenticeship reforms. This is great opportunity to be a Trailblazer, building on existing successes to lay the foundations for rigorous and easily understood apprenticeships that will help Britain compete in the global race.

"Our aim is that the new Apprenticeships will focus squarely on rigorous training for learners and simplicity of use for large and small employers, who will be in the driving seat of Apprenticeships in future. This will mean that our Apprenticeship system will respond better to the needs of the modern economy."

Melanie Leech, Director General at Food and Drink Federation said: "We are delighted that food and drink manufacturing is one of the eight sectors taking part in the BIS Apprenticeship Trailblazers initiative."

"Whilst most maintenance engineer apprentices spend their first year off-site studying general Engineering, many of these generic engineering skills are not used in the food and drink manufacturing industry. We are therefore thrilled to create a targeted Apprenticeship programme where tomorrow's engineers develop the necessary skills to excel in our industry as it is absolutely vital that we create a pool of talent for our industry to draw upon."

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