A £4.4m food and drink skills ’academy’, which co-ordinates existing training programmes in England, will launch in April.

Food and drink sector skills council Improve has worked with employers, including Warburtons and RHM, to establish the academy, which is expected to give skills to over 28,000 people during its first four years.

It will do this through a network of approved Academy Training Centres, of which there are five at the moment. "Another 35, including Thomas Danby in Leeds, are expected to be approved within three years," said Paula Widdowson, Improve’s commercial director.

Improve aims to extend the scheme into in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland at a later date.