· 2 min read · Features

Kraft Foods: How apprentices benefit our business


Against the backdrop of increased Government funding, and the continued focus on employers to offer apprenticeships to provide the necessary skills to grow the opportunities for today’s younger generation, apprenticeships remain at the heart of the Kraft Foods business.

Kraft Foods makes Philadelphia, Kenco, Oreo, Cadbury, Trebor, Dairylea, Toblerone, Creme Eggs and Bassetts. Our people have been looking after these brands in the UK for decades, and our continued success will be driven by continued investment in Research & Development and skills.

By the end of 2011, nearly 2% of our direct manufacturing workforce will be employed as apprentices within the UK & Ireland business.

The importance of apprentices to our business has been recognised through our appearance in the first ever Top 100 Apprenticeship Employers list, supported by The National Apprenticeship Service and City & Guilds. This is an exciting new initiative that recognises excellence in businesses employing apprentices, and for us as a business it is an outstanding achievement.

We have a long and proud tradition of employing both confectionery and engineering apprentices across our UK & Ireland sites, including Bournville (the home of Cadbury chocolate), Banbury (the home of Kenco), Chirk in North Wales, Marlbrook in Herefordshire, and Coolock in Dublin (the home of Cadbury Flake). We currently have 36 apprentices across our business and we are committed to increasing the number we take on by 50% by 2012.

Apprenticeships ensure that our workforce has the practical skills and qualifications the business needs, and at Kraft Foods, training for our apprentices includes a mix of on and off the job learning.

Bringing new blood into a team also brings a sense of progression and excitement. We have seen a positive impact on employee morale as other employees see apprentices as evidence of investment in the future. One of our Bournville apprentices in this years intake has a brother who is a second year apprentice technician engineer and their father is an engineer technician in the factory. Apprenticeships benefit not only the apprentices themselves but also our other employees and the wider community.

Watching existing Kraft Foods employees interact with the apprentices is a reward in itself. We recognise the value of apprentices here, and we know that we're not just training a young person, but we're also building someone with a passion for what Kraft Foods does. We give people an opportunity to come and work in a global company and if they're good there's no stopping them in their progression through the business. This month in Bournville we have offered three second year operator apprentices and one engineer apprentice full time positions in the factory.

Our focus on employability doesn't stop with our apprentice programme. The journey for some students studying for their enterprise, manufacturing, engineering and leisure and tourism diplomas starts with our World of Work programme, a two day project and mentoring scheme which sees students from local schools tasked with a real life problem within the factory environment. The students then create a working solution and report their findings to a panel of Kraft Foods engineers for feedback. The course work is then used as evidence for their diploma qualification. The programme also equips them with employability skills including interview techniques and how to complete an application form. For those students who are then keen to experience working in a manufacturing or engineering environment, we offer a two week work experience placement to help them gain a better understanding of the world of work.

We will continue to invest and drive our apprenticeship programme in the future. The next stage in our journey will be later this month when our gum and candy factory in Sheffield will take on both confectionery and engineering apprenticeships. We are delighted that four engineering and two confectionery apprentices will be joining us in Sheffield as these will be the first apprentices to join the site since 1985. We still have two operators working in Sheffield who were in the apprentice intake 26 years ago and will now act as mentors to our new recruits. Our apprentices will provide the future talent pipeline, not just at our factory in Sheffield, but for our UK and Ireland business as a whole.

Alan Lewis, Head of Engineering, Kraft Foods UK & Ireland