Nearly half a million pounds of government funding will help provide ex-military personnel a chance to secure a job within the food supply chain.
Ex-forces and career changers are being targeted in a bold new programme to skill up the fresh produce sector amid an ongoing labour crisis.
The UK food supply chain continues to see an industry-wide worker shortage due to numerous factors, with the most prominent being the pandemic's impact and Brexit,
Kickstarted by a £450,000 government grant for flexi-apprenticeships, the funding will create a food sector training programme for non-graduates, spearheaded by training provider MDS.
MDS, which collaborates with food and fresh produce firms, will be using its Leadership & Management training scheme to open up to military service leavers with leadership experience.
Its chief operating officer Sapphira Waterson has a connection with the armed forces through her work with the charity SSAFA.
She said: “This funding is an exciting and long-planned step for MDS to expand our popular leadership training and attract others on a different work ladder with diverse perspectives and skill sets into our sector.
“Giving ex-military personnel a route into the sector has been a passion of mine for both the opportunity it gives food supply chain businesses and those leaving the forces to develop a compelling career.
"Ex-service personnel are a perfect fit for our fast-paced sector, and in turn it is a route for them to continue to develop professionally and personally when they leave the military."
She added: “Equally it offers exciting new challenges for others in the workplace who don’t have a degree but have a drive and interest to develop their careers.
"They may have come from retail, healthcare or hospitality, or are returning to work after a break."
In order for the programme to reach its potential, fresh food and food supply businesses are being urged to look at the opportunity in their own businesses to bring new talent in.
MDS is looking to nearly triple the number of training placements, from 78 to 220, available in food businesses.