The UK’s largest union, Unite and pladis, the global biscuit and confectionery company behind the iconic McVitie’s brand, have announced the signing of an Engineering Apprenticeship Agreement in the UK. The agreement sets the gold standard for apprenticeships and by 2020 the partnership will have will have enabled close to 50 new apprentices to be recruited into engineering roles at pladis.
This UK Engineering Technician Apprenticeship Programme runs for five years and takes place across pladis’s seven sites up and down the country. pladis produces some of the UK’s bestselling biscuits including McVitie’s Digestives, Jaffa Cakes, and Jacob’s Cream Crackers. The apprentices will receive comprehensive training in the repair and maintenance of a wide range of packaging and processing equipment under the mentorship of highly skilled and experienced engineering employees and Unite members.
The jointly negotiated agreement recognises Unite as the only trade union with which the company will consult on all matters relating to its engineering technician apprentices.
Neil Smith, Head of Manufacturing HR at pladis, said: “Engineering apprentices are integral to our continuing success and we’re proud to support their development. At pladis, we continually invest in our apprentices by providing intensive and rewarding work experiences, as well as offering best-in-industry training programmes. We are also proud of the network of mentors around the business who offer the insights, skills and support to help kick-start lifelong careers in this exciting industry.”
Rhys McCarthy, National Officer at Unite, said: “This agreement is a progressive step forward and we would like to pay tribute to pladis for recognising the invaluable role trade unions play in the design and delivery of high quality apprenticeship programmes.
“We believe a better skilled workforce, in better paid jobs, is good for workers, good for businesses and good for the economy. The new recruits to this programme will know that they have Unite will continue to support them to secure a fair deal at work. It shows apprentices that Unite exists not just to protect pay, terms and conditions but in the actual quality of the training they receive and the reputation of their apprenticeship in the industry they work in.’’
On 6 April 2017, the government’s apprenticeship levy came into effect: all companies with a pay bill over £3m per annum are required to pay the levy which is 0.5% of their employees pay. The government's levy aims to meet their target of creating three million apprenticeships by 2020.