The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has revealed that UK food and drink manufacturers are on target to meet their pledge to double the number of apprenticeships to 3,400 by the end of 2012.

According to the latest statistics from the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) and Improve, the Sector Skills Council, 1,654 individuals have started an apprenticeship in the past six months – almost 50% of the overall target.

Figures are currently unknown of bakery apprenticeship start-ups in England, however, Scotland has accumulated 455 modern apprenticeship starts between August 2011 and end of January 2012, 41 of which (9%) have been on bakery pathways.

Angela Coleshill, director of competitiveness and the FDF, said: “We are delighted that we are well on track to meet our target to double the number of apprenticeships in food and drink manufacturing in England and Scotland. We strongly believe that apprenticeships are a fantastic way of attracting talent for the future and of bringing many benefits to our businesses including increased productivity, improved competitiveness and a motivated workforce."

“By recruiting new apprentices and upskilling our existing employees, we are ensuring that our sector has the right skills now and in the future.”

The FDF launched its apprenticeship pledge earlier this year in line with its target to grow the industry 20% by 2020, in addition to running alongside its ‘Feed Your Ambition: Skills Action Plan’, which aims to create 50,000 apprenticeship training opportunities throughout the UK food supply chain.

The Federation and its partners are running a series of roadshows across the country for food and drink businesses, with the next event taking place at the Preston Marriott Hotel on 5 July. For further information, visit