The company is spending £110m to extend the Nescafé Dolce Gusto plant and create 300 jobs. An additional £200m expansion will include production facilities for freeze dried coffee, spray dried coffee and warehousing, creating 125 jobs.
Gavin Burton, factory manager, Tutbury, told BeverageDaily.com training skilled apprentices is important for the site’s development.
Right skill set
“Our factory is going through rapid expansion,” he said. “We bolstered our apprenticeship scheme some years ago to ensure the line was full of technical talent to boost that growth.
“The one thing we struggle to do is recruit high quality technicians. By growing them internally, they come with the skill set and experience we want.”
Burton shadowed 19-year-old Joe Timmins on Friday as part of National Apprenticeship Week (March 3 – 7). Timmins is a third year apprentice who is working at the factory while studying the Higher National Certificate (HNC) in manufacturing engineering.
He beat hundreds of students to gain his apprenticeship, and Burton said applicants are chosen based on how they will fit in with the company.
“They’re all coming to us with reasonably good qualifications, so it’s not so much about their academic ability, although they have to have an element of that,” he said. “It’s about their behaviour, mindset and enthusiasm to learn.”
Timmins is moving around the departments during his time with Nestlé, which could range from packaging to industrial services.
“We want to give him a breadth of experience and exposure, and this allows him to make an informed choice about his role,” said Burton. “From our side, we find each department requires a slightly different individual and skill set.”
Burton shadowed Timmins at work in the coffee manufacturing department. Shadowing an apprentice gives managers the chance to check their apprenticeship programme is working, he added.
“These guys are trusting us to develop their skills. They’ve worked hard to get through the selection process and we want them to succeed. You have to understand that these apprentices are still teenagers, they could be in full time education but they’ve chosen to come to us.
“I want to find out how the apprenticeship is going from his side, how can we improve, does he feel the mix of college and work is right for him? If I’m hearing it from one person it’s often the opinion of the group. They’re very young and confident and tell you how it is.”
Burton has been with Nestlé for 18 years and a factory manager for three years. “You go to college for the technical aspects, but the apprenticeship is about life skills and social skills,” he said. “It’s about the practical elements, the stuff the books don’t say.”
There are 51 apprentices working with Nestle in the UK. The company plans to recruit up to 50 apprentices in 2014, while 15 will finish their training this year.