A new training scheme for the food and drink industry has been warned that it could struggle to attract small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to the initiative.
The Food Advanced Training Partnership (Food ATP) was set up on May 1st at the Henley Business School at the University of Reading to help workers that have not previously studied in the sector at degree level to learn about the new technologies. At the time of the launch, Paul Berryman, chief executive of Leatherhead Food Research, described the partnership as providing an "ideal opportunity" for employees to gain knowledge for different sciences being introduced into the industry.
Despite the initial positive signals, FoodManufacture.co.uk reported that Mr Berryman did err on the side of caution and warned of the "challenges" that will be presented when attracting smaller businesses. He explained that SMEs are more likely to favour shorter courses. This was echoed by Ian Cutler, senior manager for scientific and regulatory affairs at Coca-Cola Enterprises, who said that small organisations would be reluctant to release their staff for such a long period.
Mr Cutler told the news provider: "I’m not sure if this will fit into independent training budgets. Firms will want to see the benefits in pounds, shillings and pennies to identify a need for staff to take the course.”
Food ATP provides education in the basis of Professional Doctorate, MRes, MSc and postgraduate programmes. Although they run on a part-time basis they have four overlapping modules: nutrition, health and consumers, food quality, food manufacture and sustainable food production. It is aimed at improving knowledge for staff throughout the industry leading to a better service going forward.
Cheryl White, head of quality at Waitrose, backed the plans of Food ATP and told FoodManufacture.co.uk that it was ideal for those SMEs which did not have the means to train their staff in-house. She added allows them to experience "deep scientific training" for experts within the field.