In 2017, the Government introduced the Apprenticeship Levy to help fund its ambition for three million new apprenticeships by 2020.
At PepsiCo, we believe apprenticeships are a hugely valuable way to attract people who want to pursue a career, while also benefiting businesses. This is all the more important as the UK cements its place as a global leader in food and drink, with a greater requirement for a skilled workforce, particularly in engineering and R&D.
We have harnessed the opportunity the Levy presented and made notable structural and cultural shifts in our approach to training, skills and development. We have made significant progress over the last year and have increased the number of apprentices we hire from less than ten in April 2017 to more than 120 today.
We are proud to have apprentices working across our sites who are vital to the success of our business. Over four per cent of our UK snacks headcount are now apprentices.
Age is not a barrier
Many of our apprentices are school leavers and young people, however our schemes have attracted people of all ages who have wanted to change their career, bolster their skills, or gain new qualifications while earning a living. In fact, the average age of our apprentices is currently 33.
Investing in our people
The Levy has also provided an opportunity for PepsiCo to not only welcome new apprentices into the business, but also enable existing employees to upskill and pursue a new career. Over the last year, 18 of our employees have started training to become a Manufacturing Tech apprentice, which requires them to undertake a Level 2 Diploma in Performing Engineering Operations.
We are also running Maths and English courses to allow existing staff to qualify for our General Operative apprenticeship scheme.
We remain committed to advancing our female employees, and apprenticeships are no exception. We want to encourage more women to take advantage of the opportunities a STEM career in manufacturing has to offer. Around one in ten of our apprentices are women, which is above the sector average, but there’s still a long way to go. We are finding ways to build on this and we’ve already made steps in the right direction – 15% of our new hires are female.
Building on success
We want to build on our success to date and we plan to roll out more apprenticeship schemes in Leicester, Coventry, Lincoln and Skelmsdale over the coming months, alongside a Supply Chain Warehouse Operative apprenticeship programme.
 We currently have 2700 employees in UK snacks food business and 114 apprentices currently on programme.