16/3/2018 - Posted in: General news
As my intended five-year stint with FDQ has now stretched to thirteen years, I have decided the time must be right to step down as Chairman of FDQ. My extended period of office is a measure of how much I have enjoyed working with this organisation, and seeing it develop into the leading food specialist awarding body it is today. I shall miss FDQ greatly, particularly the team; although I'll not be disappearing completely as I remain CEO of our parent company ftc, the skills charity.
There has been an unprecedented amount of change in the further education market over the past decade, which I know has posed as many challenges for you as it has for us. As I retire I'd like to share my thoughts on those changes and hopes for the future with you, our loyal customers.
After a career in the food industry, running factories and businesses, I sold my business in 2003. A year later I was recruited to run the Meat Training Council. MTC had been the awarding body for the meat industry for many years as the government backed National Training Organisation, but we were superseded by Sector Skills Councils. MTC had decided to widen the scope of its awarding body to the whole food sector, rebranding as Food and Drink Qualifications Ltd – then FDQ.
We set out to make FDQ the leading Awarding Body in the food sector. This we achieved and have maintained to this day, and is something I look back on with pride.
As ever in education and training, times change, and we now see the qualifications market diminishing and the market for apprenticeships and end-point assessments growing. I believe that the team in place now at FDQ have the experience and skill set to be the leading player here too – particularly at levels 2 and 3 in craft skills. It is these craft skills that I passionately believe have been largely overlooked in the food industry over the last 20 years or so. Recruitment has been focussing on good hardworking foreign labour at one end, and graduate trainees at the other. Many times food business owners have told me that they have lost the people who really understand what is going on at the craft end of their businesses – I always told them to train their own apprentices! The trailblazer apprentice programme is a great way to really make that happen.
At FDQ we know that developing apprentice standards properly is absolutely key – indeed the butchery Level 2 standard we helped industry develop is regarded by Richard Guy at The Institute for Apprenticeships as an exemplar. Along with that the End Point Assessment (EPA) must be properly written and have well trained and qualified assessors to carry out the assessment, backed up by robust systems. These EPA's are not cheap to develop, and FDQ have taken the view that we will not rush to market, but ensure that on a standard by standard basis we get things right so that we do not let down the apprentice, training provider or the employer.
I believe FDQ will continue to thrive under Terry Fennell's leadership, backed by support from Dr Jane Downes who succeeds me as Chair of FDQ.
Wishing you all the very best in your future endeavours,