Improve, the food and drink sector skills council, wants to see employers’ own training programmes recognised as part of a new framework governing vocational qualifications across the industry.

It is currently negotiating with employers and training provi-ders on ways to update in-house schemes to make them the basis for National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) and Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQs).

The move follows consultation from Improve with employers on how to make NVQs and SVQs more flexible and more relevant to the workplace. It would mean employers’ own tailor-made in-house training programmes could be used as a basis for universally-recognised qualifications, with government funding on offer for the training they provide.

At present, 80% of training within the food and drinks sector occurs in-house, but only 15% leads to an externally accredited qualification. Jack Matthews, chief executive of Improve, said: "In the food and drink industry we have had a rather chaotic situation where dissatisfaction with the structure of vocational qualifications has led to different employers running different training courses in isolation from one another. This has contributed to a perceived shortage of skills that can transfer from job to job, and in some cases has posed a barrier to career progression for employees."