In any other year the majority of Welsh food and drink businesses would be heading for the Royal Welsh Show this week but the recent pandemic has curtailed the summer events calendar. Many of those businesses however have used the past months considering their future training needs and identifying the relevant training providers to help take them forward.
The Food Skills Cymru project supports businesses within the Welsh food and drink sector to ensure employees have the right skills and training for their business and they have recently announced over 20 new training providers to provide specialist training and advice for the food and drink sector in Wales.
The current training provider framework has now added more providers and offers a wide range of training from health and safety to engineering to sales, marketing and export to human resources guidance. Eligible businesses will apply for support and will then be matched up to a specific training provider to work with them.
According to Sarah Lewis, Project Manager for Food Skills Cymru, the variety of training on offer is now needed more than ever,
“The food and drink industry has always been a vital component of the Welsh economy but the past few months has been especially challenging for the sector. In our many discussions with businesses there has been a strong call for training programmes that can provide them with the relevant skills to emerge from this current crisis and help rebuild for the future.
“While we already offer a comprehensive training schedule the new providers enhance the training offer and will contribute towards creating a more resilient workforce. In addition, and this is the very good news, up to 80% of the costs can be met from our project – a welcome contribution especially during these times.”
Lesley Griffiths, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, said:
“Wales’ food and drink businesses have remained characteristically innovative and resilient throughout the crisis posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, and I am pleased to note that despite some of the difficulties of recent times, businesses have still been provided with the training they need.
“I would like to thank Food Skills Cymru for their continued provision of valuable training to our food and drink sector.
“I’m pleased to note that they have been able to add to their pool of specialist training providers, and would encourage any businesses interested in further training to get in touch with Food Skills Cymru to see the level and variety of support on offer.”
The amount of funding available ranges from 50% to 80% dependent on the size of the business and to be eligible for support the business must have a production or manufacturing site located in Wales and be able to show a clear return on investment following the training.
One of the new training providers is Bridgend based Highfield HR who offer bespoke human resources support as Director Leanne Yau explains,
“Any business will tell you that their greatest asset is the people who work for them – their workforce. But there can be challenges with day to day management and ensuring that employees have the opportunities to make a positive and practical contribution to the business goals. At Highfield HR we accept that every business is different and there is a need to develop, bespoke, tailored solutions.
“Like all sectors the food and drink sector is going through a challenging time but its success is crucial to the Welsh economy and we are delighted to have the chance to play a small part in ensuring it will re-emerge stronger and continue to grow.”
Among the businesses who have already received support are Pembrokeshire based Capestone Organic Poultry, mid Wales meat processor Randall Parker Foods and one of Wales most recognised dairy co-operative, South Caernarfon Creameries.
The West Cheshire and North Wales Chamber of Commerce has recently joined the training programme and provides business support for the domestic and export markets according to Debbie Bryce, Chief Executive Officer,
“We are delighted to become a training partner as part of the Food Skills Cymru Framework. Our International Trade Training courses are designed to give businesses the essential skills needed to sell goods & services overseas. Through this new partnership, we aim to help firms in the Welsh food and drink industry start their export journey or support further market growth.”
Additional support information is available through contacting Food Skills Cymru on [email protected] or calling 01982 552646.
Food Skills Cymru is funded by the Welsh Government Rural Communities – Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.