by Pete Thornton, Learning & Development Business Partner

How is Bidfood supporting apprenticeships?

How is Bidfood supporting apprenticeships?
An apprenticeship is a fantastic way to learn while you work, and here at Bidfood we are keen to support the learning and development of our people. We sat down with Pete Thornton, Learning & Development Business Partner, to learn more about how we support apprenticeships, and how someone can get involved.


Can you tell me a little bit about Bidfood’s apprenticeship scheme?

We offer a wide range of apprenticeships, 38 listed in the apprenticeship pathway, and we’re able to source more if there is something specific someone is looking for. With new apprenticeships coming out all the time and demands in work changing, there has never been a better time to look at personal development through an apprenticeship programme.


What does Bidfood do to encourage and support apprentices?

Apprenticeships provide a valuable training and development opportunity to help gain great skills and knowledge in the workplace for current and future needs. Within Bidfood this is something we encourage to help develop individual growth and recognise skills and capability.


How do apprenticeships compare to other academic qualifications?

An apprenticeship is a great way to achieve externally recognised qualifications, with apprenticeships being distinguished through levels. A level 2 apprenticeship is equivalent to 5 GCSE’s, a level 3 equivalent to x2 A-levels all the way up to level 7 which is equivalent to a master’s degree. As a result of apprenticeships I have taken, I have better qualification now at a higher level than those I left school with.


What does an average day look like for an apprentice?

This depends on the programme and level being undertaken. In reality, the working week will not be much different! Which makes getting involved and managing an apprenticeship easier than it might first appear. With an apprentice already working in a role within the businessit is about identifying learning and application opportunities within the normal working week to get apprentices involved and practicing new skills. For each apprenticeship there is a series of externally delivered workshops and learning activities to help highlight new skills and knowledge.

The key is to plan activities into a working week to support these. Modern apprenticeships insist on committing to what is referred to as ‘Off the Job Learning hours’. This is for an average of 6 hours a week to learn, practice new skills which can be done through researching, projects, assignments, workshops, briefings, job shadowing and a whole host of other activities to help learning by doing. The best approach is to plan these in around the dedicated workshops and activities provided by the supplier so you know the time and commitment needed.


What different areas of the business can you do an apprenticeship in?

With so many apprenticeships available there isn’t an area of the business that can’t do an apprenticeship. We have colleagues in Bidfood currently on a wide variety of apprenticeship at all different levels. These include areas such as Senior Leadership programmes, Coaching, Sales Executives programmes, Customer Service and Business Admin programmes, Business Analysist, Commercial Procurement and Supply Chain, Finance, Team Leading and Driving programmes… all delivered through an apprenticeship!


What do we do to support our apprentices?

The best way to support an apprentice is having a clear plan and sight of what’s needed during the individual programme they are on. Then planning in those dates needed to attend the supporting workshops or work elements provided by the supplier. Then it’s a case of offering support and encouragement, regular reviews and check ins and looking for opportunities to practice and utilise the new skills. They can be a really useful opportunity to bring new skills and thinking in to a department or area if maximised and a chance to share the learning.


What would be your top line advice to someone starting an apprenticeship?

Plan in the time to be able to commit to complete the programme, (there are varying levels of work involved depending on the level and the programme you’re doing). Keep your line manager informed on progress and get them involved in helping you find opportunities to implement and practice your learnings in your everyday work.


How about someone wanting to start one but who isn’t 100% sure yet?

Get in touch and let’s get an information session arranged with the supplier and your line manager. The supplier will be able to talk through the programme in detail, what’s involved, what’s needed time wise and expected and that way they will be able to answer any questions you might have or concerns about the time frame or work involved. This is also great to get your line manager involved with and understanding what is needed to help you complete the programme and what they can do to support and encourage you.


How do you think the apprenticeship pathway has benefited our business?

Having a business that offers development to its colleagues is a winner for all involved. That might be the personal achievement and confidence of gaining a qualification, professional development and growth of those involved, to the real time application of those skills to help make the business a better place to work. We have already seen a number of those that have gone through apprenticeships gain secondments and promotions as well as retaining colleagues.


Have our apprentices offered new insight and learnings?

I have been lucky enough to be involved in a recent apprenticeship with a number of other colleagues around Coaching. For me this was about supporting our internal L&D offering with dedicated coaching session, which we are using to support a number of colleague and programmes being delivered. So that for me is a great example of how I have personally taken an apprenticeship programme to support my personal growth and development but also bring in something new to what we can offer the business.


What’s your favourite part about the scheme?

The opportunity to provide development to support our colleagues to grow, learn and develop new skills. The chance to realise there personal potential and achieve recognition and a sense of achievement. The duration of an apprenticeship (min 12 months depending on level) means people get a longer development journey to take in what’s being suggested, consider its application in the work place and then practice it.


What should someone do if they are keen to become an apprentice with Bidfood?

If you are working for us then get in touch with an application form, located in our Apprenticeship pathway document. If you are external to the business keep a look out for opportunities across our depots for the chance to join Bidfood on an apprenticeship programme. We have recently recruited Business Admin, Customer Service and Stock Control apprentices so please look out for more opportunities we have to attract new talent in to the business.


What’s your favourite food?

Anything with chicken, roast chicken, hot curry, pasta – it is so adaptable and has to be my go to food!


For more information on our Apprenticeship Pathway, visit the People pillar on our sustainability webpage: Positive force for change | Sustainability | Bidfood UK

Want to hear from one of our apprentices? Check out: What does an apprenticeship look like at Bidfood? 


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