Dunfermline Athletic


Friday, 18th Apr 2008

It is with dismay that we hear of an extra £19 million being ploughed into the Further Education system in Scotland bringing the budget available to colleges ands universities to £555m in the academic year beginning 1st August 2008.

The Scottish Funding Council's cash is augmented over and above that with almost another £90m is available to them for capital projects.

Compare that to the impoverish Vocational Training sector with its year on year cut backs. Here the National Training Programmes restrict funding to 16 to 19 year olds (that means up to 19th birthday), there is no funding for Modern Apprenticeships for those 20+ unless in Construction and Engineering sectors. Whatever happened to the priority for the Food and Drink sector?

Food has an important part to play in creating a wealthier Scotland, providing many jobs with one in five people in Scottish manufacturing work in food and drink businesses. Yet the retail meat industry is slowly being bled dry of skills and lack of funding seriously jeopardising the continued viability of our training arm, Scottish Meat Training.

We hear new bodies set up or proposed and funding promised at that level but what we see is no money for the operative to be trained in our industry. We already have the Sector Skills Council, Improve, a National Food Academy is mooted and we have the newly formed Scotland Food and Drink. They will all receive support but as far as vocational training is concerned we have ministers with a blind spot. Despite employers organisations such as ours continually pointing this out nothing changes.

The Scottish Government is currently spending a lot of time and money developing a National Food Policy, demonstrating this importance yet at the other end of the spectrum there would appear to be a lack of commitment to the food industry.

The reality is that employers in the meat industry will have to compete with colleges and other trades for the limited number in the 16-18 category and older employees, often in supervisory roles can access no funded training.

As you might have guessed no colleges offer Meat and Poultry Processing qualifications. Currently there is a serious shortage of craft butchers, what does the future look like?

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