The commitment of a Scottish beef processor to staff development and raising the profile of employment opportunities in the red meat industry has been recognized with a Scottish Food and Drink Excellence Award.
AK Stoddart, based in West Lothian and Ayrshire, lifted the award in the “Profiting Through Skills” category, sponsored by Skills Development Scotland.
The award recognises the commitment of Stoddart’s, an independently-owned company established in the 1950s, to developing existing staff and attract new blood to the industry.
The company has embarked on a range of initiatives and partnerships aimed at raising the profile of careers and skills in the food and drink industry. One focus area has been bringing young people into the business and helping them to develop their skills from scratch. Stoddart’s also offer all employees the opportunity to continue to develop their skills by undertaking a Modern Apprenticeship in Food Manufacture.
“We are convinced that by ensuring a pipeline of talent, and developing and retaining our existing employees, business performance will be safeguarded and improved on for the long-term,” said Neil Stoddart, Managing Director of Stoddart’s.
Jim McLaren, Chairman of Quality Meat Scotland, said the company was to be congratulated on its success.
“The future of the Scottish red meat industry depends on its ability to retain skilled enthusiastic people and Stoddart’s have shown a great example of commitment to attracting new people and developing existing staff. The company is now reaping the rewards of the various initiatives introduced,” said Mr McLaren.
In March 2013 Stoddart’s participated in the industry's “Tasty Careers/Jobs” initiative and introduced six long-term unemployed individuals to the business for a period of two weeks.
“The purpose of this initiative was to showcase opportunities within the food and drink industry, and also to provide the participants with the skills, knowledge and experience to get them job ready.
“The candidates also gained a nationally recognised qualification in food hygiene and receive health and safety training,” said Mr Stoddart. At the end of the course all six participants were offered positions at Stoddart’s.
In September 2012 Stoddart’s took part in the industry's “Feeding Britain's Future /Skills for Work Week” by opening its doors and inviting 16 unemployed individuals from the local community into the business for the day.
The aim was to engage with those outside the industry to highlight the wealth of different opportunities available to them. Participants took part in a tour of our facilities, and attended workshops on employability skills and an introduction to the industry/Stoddart's.
In 2013, over a period of nine weeks, Stoddart’s worked with Bathgate Academy on a pupil Enterprise Project along the lines of Dragons' Den meets The Apprentice. The whole of second year, approximately 180 pupils, were set a new product development challenge to devise an exciting new burger range.
Stoddart’s also operates a large scale modern apprenticeship programme, in partnership with Scottish Meat Training. Over the past 12 months, approximately 25% of the company’s weekly paid employees, commenced a Modern Apprenticeships (either at Level 2 and Level 3) in Food Manufacture. The firm also has several employees over 50 years old studying towards their MA.
Stoddart's continues to support employees who wish to develop their skills via further education. One employee recently completed an MSc in Food Science and several employees commenced HNC courses in the past 12 months, for example in Electrical Engineering.
Caption: Hardeep Singh joins Sylvia Halkerston, Scotland Food and Drinks Skills Academy to present AK Stoddart’s Liam Lynch, operations manager and Brian Steven, production manager with the award.