Imaginative Teaching Resources & Inspirational Career Ideas from the Chilled Food Industry
Dr Caroline Millman is a senior lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University, she is also Course Leader for the BSc (Hons) Food Industry Technical Professional Degree Apprenticeship course.
Her background in the food industry, and latterly in academia, means she is ideally placed to inspire and nurture the next generation of chilled food professionals.
With fewer young people coming into the food industry – as graduates or apprentices – Caroline faces a number of challenges. As she explains: “Food production is often viewed as becoming a chef, or as cookery. Add to these misconceptions some long-held views around the status of apprenticeships and it’s easy to lose sight of the many positives they offer.”
Sheffield Hallam University offer Food and Nutrition degree courses at as well as a degree apprenticeship programme suited for apprentices in the food and drink industry, with time split 80% working in industry and 20% on course work and training. As a way into the industry they have many advantages for the apprentice and their chosen company. Caroline explains: “It’s a virtuous circle – the apprentice works towards a degree, putting their learning into practice in industry, whilst industry experience will help in their course work. Plus, of course, they are being paid. And the employer has a flexible, adaptable staff member who can be trained in the company’s approach right from the start of their working relationship.”
She continues: “Not all apprenticeships are the same, and they are not only for school leavers, that’s another misconception. It’s a route in but also a route up. They can be used as a way to change jobs, for example from product development to a technical role. Or for upskilling by those looking to move up the career ladder.”
Caroline says that the other big challenges lie in the classroom, with the dropping food science ‘A’ level from the curriculum in England & Wales and the halving of GCSE food completions over the last ten years. This has especially impacted on the route into food roles such as product and process development.
In spite of this there are rays of hope shining from schools, in the form of inspirational food teachers. Caroline cites examples of young food industry professionals on the career path thanks to one particular teacher.
Coupled with the increasing popularity of ‘behind the scenes’ food documentaries sparking curiosity the demand for food industry apprenticeships must surely go up. And when they do Caroline is more than ready to welcome it.
A wide range of exciting apprenticeship opportunities are available through CFA members. Details can be found here.
Degree apprentices Matty Desforges and Charlie Gresswell share their experiences here.