The FDF is working with government and our members to deliver a skills system that successfully addresses both current and future skills shortages to ensure industry can respond to changes in the labour market and reap the benefits of innovation and increased automation.

We aim to build apprenticeship numbers through reform of the apprenticeship levy so it works better for employers and learners. We want to see the creation of a Food and Drink supply chain fund to maximise use of levy funds. For the longer-term we are calling for a more flexible levy and better coverage of training costs.

We are working with government to help shape the implementation of the new T Levels. We support business engagement throughout the development process to ensure the new qualification closely meet the needs of UK food and drink.

We support members to help them access existing learning provision such as the National Skills Fund Retraining Scheme and the Adult Education Budget.


Skills Update


Following the Prime Minister’s speech that set out the Government’s aims for ‘levelling-up’, the Department for Education has made a series of announcements including a consultation on the National Skills Fund and the confirmation of the pilot areas for the Strategic Development Fund. The announcements are:

  • National Skills fund consultation asking for views on how the fund can be adapted to continue to meet the future skills needs of individuals and employers.
  • Expansion of Skills Bootcamps to every region of the country, offering an extra 16,000 fully funded places for adults to upskill or retrain.
  • Funding Accountability consultation on plans to simplify funding for adult skills training, while giving colleges more freedom to decide how best to support the training needs of local communities.
  • Skills Accelerator and LSIPs – 18 new pilot areas eligible for funding through the £65 million Strategic Development Fund. Eight of these areas will also lead work to develop Local Skills Improvement Plans.
  • New careers guidance for all schools and colleges.

The consultation on the National Skills fund gives the FDF an opportunity to continue making the case for food and drink courses to be included in the Lifetime Skills Guarantee.

If you have any questions or comments please contact Innovation and Skills Policy Manager, Mark Corbett.

Skills and Post-16 Education Bill


In advance of the Second Reading of the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill on 15 June, the FDF wrote to 30 Peers to outline our position on the Bill, specifically focussing on Chapter 1 that will set up local skills improvement plans.

The FDF wants to make sure that local skills improvement plans work effectively in practice and that they should encompass the following principles:  

  • Ensuring that both national and local skills challenges are recognised: Food and drink manufacturing is part of UK critical infrastructure and has a presence across the country – whilst we should address local skills challenges we must not ignore the national challenges the industry faces with skills shortages and changes in access to EU labour. We do have concerns that with geographies of local skills improvement plans could be quite small and that the scale of the national challenges on the industry may not be received at a local level.
  • Setting plans up for success: The FDF would like to see a more defined role for combined authorities, given combined authorities have devolved education budgets, to develop, deliver and maintain local skills improvement plans. Skills plans should be based on the evidence gathered through the development of Local Industrial Strategies. The Government should also encourage more skills cooperation across Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) in areas without a metro mayor.
  • Employer representative bodies to represent all local employers: Currently, the bar has been set low for how representative an employer representative body would need to be to be involved in local skills improvement plans. The Bill currently states: “the body is reasonably representative of the employers operating within the specified area”. We want to ensure that all employers in the local area are represented including our industry and would welcome a better defined and more rigorous test of how effective representation of employers and sectors will be in the area.

For more information on the FDF’s work in this area please contact Mark Corbett.

Budget 2021: The Help to Grow scheme

The Government has announced new growth support for eligible small businesses[1]. The support will begin in the Autumn. More details

Help to Grow: Management

Leaders and senior managers can access a 12 week-programme delivered by leading business schools across the UK. The programme includes practical learning and 1:1 support from a business mentor and is designed to fit around full-time work. 30,000 places are available (over 3 years). Total cost for participants is £750 (after a 90% government subsidy).

Help to Grow: Digital

Small businesses will have access to free impartial advice on how technology can boost their performance through a new online platform. Eligible businesses can apply for a discount of up to 50% on the costs of approved software (up to £5,000). Vouchers will be available for software that can:

  • build customer relationships and increase sales
  • make the most of selling online
  • manage their accounts and finances digitally

[1] Must be operating for more than 1 year and employ between 5 to 249 employees

FDF response to the Skills for Jobs White Paper


The FDF cautiously welcomed the publication of the Skills for Jobs White Paper, and the declaration that employers should play a bigger role in skills. The development of local skills plans has the potential to address the gaps in provision that are a real problem for our industry.

The SMEs apprenticeship matching service will help with the take-up of the levy transfer, but it doesn’t address the root cause of businesses not being able to use their levy due to inflexibilities in the system.

Furthermore, the omission of food and drink manufacturing course from the funded Lifetime Skills Guarantee was frustrating for industry that has continued to recruit throughout the pandemic.

Key areas covered in the paper include:  

  • Putting employers at the heart of post-16 skills
  • Providing the advanced technical and higher technical skills the nation needs
  • Flexible Lifetime Skills Guarantee
  • Responsive providers, supported by more effective accountability and funding
  • Supporting outstanding teaching

Kickstart Success


Food and Drink Manufacturers across England, Scotland and Wales have been successful in their bid to offer hundreds of funded job placements to young people as part of the government’s Kickstart scheme.

Led jointly by the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink and the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), 400 young people will receive real industry experience and a wage during their six-month job placement.

All participants who complete their placement will also receive a food and drink manufacturing ‘passport’ confirming their readiness to take up a job in the industry, along with an employability programme delivered by Youth Employment UK. It is hoped that many of Kickstart participants will be taken on as apprentices once they have completed their placements.

While the sector has shown remarkable strength and resilience during the pandemic, the food and drink supply chain has been hugely impacted, with young people bearing the brunt of job losses in the retail and hospitality sectors. As the UK’s largest manufacturing sector it is reassuring that government recognises the excellent opportunities we have to offer.


FDF Scotland's response to the Scottish Government's programme for Government 2021-22

“We are delighted to see the Scottish Government’s continued commitment to supporting the recovery and growth of Scotland’s vital food and drink industry. "

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Joint letter: Recruitment crisis in the food and drink sector in Scotland

FDF Scotland with food and drink industry partners wrote a joint letter to the Scottish and UK Governments to highlight the recruitment crisis in the food and drink sector in Scotland.

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Top marks for new food learning zone

A Fife teacher has become the first to score a perfect 100% in a new online training resource for Scotland’s schools and colleges. The digital training platform aims to show teachers the importance of the whole food and drink chain, from farm to fork, linking it to curriculum subjects such as Biology, Geography, Maths, Environmental Science and Health and Food Technology.

Read more

Next Welsh Government must support growth of vital food and drink industry

The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) Cymru and the British Soft Drinks Association (BSDA) have today launched what it sees as the key priorities for the next Welsh Government.

Read more

All news

Skills topics



The FDF is working with members, government and stakeholders to help maximise the effectiveness of apprenticeships and the levy to build a stronger skills pipeline for the sector.


Lifelong learning

The FDF is working with members to access funding for reskilling and upskilling employees through lifelong learning schemes including the Adult Education Budget, National Skills Fund and Lifetime Skills Guarantee.

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T Levels

The FDF is supporting the development of T Levels so they align with industry needs to maximise engagement in industry placements as courses are rolled out in 2021 and 2022.

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Report: Preparing for a changing workforce: A food and drink supply chain approach to skills

24 October 2019

Report by the Food and Drink Sector Council which outlines the future workforce and skills needs of the UK food and drink sector, and has brought together the entire supply chain to develop key recommendations for both government and industry that will deliver a real step change.

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About FDF Scotland

What we do

Report: A recipe for growth, prosperity and sustainability

05 May 2020

This is our shared plan for governments to work in partnership with the UK’s food and drink industry to ensure it continues to lead the world and meet the needs of UK consumers and shoppers.

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