One of Shropshire’s largest food producers has been spelling out why it is such a big believer in taking on apprentices.
Palethorpes, part of the Addo Food Group, makes chilled savoury rolls, savoury hot pies, pasties and slices at its base in Market Drayton – and has been committed to employing apprentices for many years.
Among the latest batch are Ben Littley and Abigail Taylor, who have been working at the Maer Lane site for the past six months, while studying through Telford College.
Ben, 22, is in the engineering department, while 25-year-old Abigail is working towards her AAT in accounting level three qualification.
Ben, from Bicton near Shrewsbury, initially studied automotive engineering before joining Palethorpes, and is now training to be a maintenance engineer.
He is on a performing engineering operations level three course at Telford College, which includes a diploma in electronic and electrical engineering.
Abigail, from Wellington, says she hopes her advanced apprenticeship in accounting will provide her with an ideal springboard to further development within her chosen profession.
There are also two second year Telford College apprentices at Palethorpes – Luke Williams and Daniel Stones.
Palethorpes training manager Andrew Holland said: “We’re big believers in apprentices, and we have built up a very good relationship with Telford College. The partnership is working very well.
“The beauty of taking on an apprentice is that it gives us the chance to ‘grow our own’ well-rounded members of staff, who get to know the origins of the business and are brought up to know our ethos and values.
“With a company of our size, there are many different career paths which they can follow at the end of their studies. And the salaries which they can go on to earn are very good indeed.”
He added: “People think because we are a food producer that it is just packing products into boxes, but there is a lot more to life at Palethorpes than that.
“As a market leader in the chilled savoury pastry sector, we utilise advanced automation and robotics in our production facilities, this requires industry leading innovation from our employees who have the skills, attitudes and behaviours to meet the challenges of working in a fast paced ever changing working environment.
“Our apprentice engineers, for example, get chance to work on general maintenance, in our grain silos, and with some of the robotic packing technology which we have been using for many years.”
The company says it will be looking to recruit more apprentice engineers later this year, as well as upskilling its existing workforce in a variety of apprenticeships at different levels, continuing its partnership with Telford College.
Katie Parsons, employer engagement manager at Telford College, said: “We have been an integral training partner to Palethorpes for a number of years, providing apprenticeships in a variety of areas including engineering, accountancy and IT.
“Palethorpes is looking to develop a wide range of skills, we can provide the company with a comprehensive portfolio of training options to suit their business needs.”