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.


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 Apprentice of the Year Award


Do you employ a brilliant apprentice in your food and drink manufacturing company?

Nominate them for the FDF Apprentice of the Year award before 28 February 2021. It’s completely free to enter!

View the full criteria and enter now

Find our more about the FDF Awards

FDF HR Initiative Award


Is your company a great place to work? Is it somewhere where workplace wellbeing is paramount and employee recognition is encouraged?

Enter in the FDF Awards – HR Initiative category before 28 February 2021, for your chance to win. It’s completely free to enter!

View the full criteria and enter now

Find our more about the FDF Awards


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

Good Food Champions lay foundations for Scotland’s food and drink future

A new online teacher training resource for Scotland’s schools and colleges aims to boost Scotland’s knowledge of Good Food. It provides a suite of resources to empower educators to teach secondary pupils about food, STEM and sustainability.

Read more

FDF Scotland’s manifesto sets out producer’s priorities

Ahead of the Scottish Parliament elections, FDF Scotland is calling for a platform to help our world-renowned food and drink industry recover from coronavirus and Brexit, and to return to growth. They ask for a moratorium on policy and regulation changes that will negatively impact Scotland’s food and drink manufacturers.

Read more

UK Food and Drink Manufacturers to offer more than 400 Kickstart Jobs

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

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.

Read more

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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