Greencore Group – A Year in the Life of the Apprenticeship Levy

Greencore Group plc is a leading international manufacturer of convenience foods, working with successful retail and food outlets to provide some of the most well-known brands. Their model of ‘The Greencore Way’ revolves around 4 core principles; People at the Core, Great Food, Business Effectiveness and Cost Efficiency, guiding the business’ decision making and bringing together the key elements of Greencore’s operation.

Greencore partnered with 3aaa Apprenticeships to support them in picking out the key needs and objectives that they wanted to achieve from the Apprenticeship Levy. Working closely with their learning and development team, we were able to look at the current training that’s available, what their succession plan looked like and what obvious gaps there were in their training – then looking at where in the business maximum impact would be received.

As an OFSTED Outstanding Provider, 3aaa were chosen as Greencore’s lead provider for their ability to build high-quality education and learning within Greencore’s business. As a company who didn’t particularly have the knowledge or experience of Apprenticeships, it was vital to them that they had access to the best MSP (Managed Service Provider) on offer to work alongside them and bring a level of expertise on-board to match their needs. Greencore are dedicated to achieving the best end-result, so having a key point of contact within 3aaa helps them navigate the sometimes difficult world of education and funding.

Natalie Rogers, Leadership Development Manager at Greencore, stated that the Apprenticeship Levy has always been prominent in their thinking, ensuring that Greencore are “tethered into their talent priorities”. After identifying skills gaps within the organisation, they chose to use the Levy to work on these gaps and aid the building of skills for the long term in alignment with where they would like the business to be – building their Apprenticeship strategy.

Being able to jump from theory to application within the workplace through the use of relevant examples is a key way of easily accelerating learning – Greencore have the ability to influence programme content through delivery and this is really important to them, ensuring that they have a contextualised management programme.

Working with the 20% off-the-job requirements, 3aaa worked very closely to support Greencore in helping define what is and isn’t off-job for the learners. “There’s no real black and white definition”, said Natalie Rogers, “and I don’t think that there should be. We’re investing in somebody’s development and there has to be a bit of give and take on both sides. Some of the 20% is coming from the working environment and within their study, but the vast majority of it happens in the day-to-day within conversations, tasks – which we assumed would happen naturally, some of it does, but some of it you have to make happen.”

Daniel Nicholas, a Level 3 Team Leader participant, said when discussing why he chose to take part in the Greencore Management Development Programme:

“The reason why I wanted to take part in the Greencore Management qualification was that I felt it would be the best way to help me progress from where I am now in my current role. I was falling into a leadership position within the team and helping to train new starters to our processes, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to get some backing and understanding on theories to better my capabilities.”

Having the opportunity to identify key areas in which himself and his team didn’t previously understand has supported the development in communication skills and workload planning.

Daniel continued with, “it’s made me understand what motivates people differently, how you can get the best results out of your team, and what you’re looking for in areas of progression for them to be able to see that for themselves.” Being on the programme has given Daniel the chance to strengthen, in his own words, his “bond with the company”, with his main example being the conference day – during this day, Daniel was able to learn about the manufacturing side of Greencore and gain a much wider understanding of the business, getting to see what happens on the opposite end of his office-based role.

Phil Barnfather, Talent & Development Director at Greencore, discussed how 3aaa were able to react to any issues that the programmes brought forward:

“Going from a standing start to nine programmes and with 100 people on the programmes internally means that things are going to go not as well as you planned. It’s been a steep learning curve for us. I found 3aaa to be responsive, I found them to care and found them to want to help find a solution to the problems. They’ve supported, they’ve helped and I found them great to work with.”

“We designed the programmes so that we have quarterly forums with 3aaa,” continued Angela Edmonds, Future Talent Manager at Greencore, “so that we can anticipate plans that are coming up in terms of events or when we were anticipating year 2 plans, we can think about what’s coming up and put plans in place. We’ve also thought, more recently, into how we can cut steps out of resolving issues.”

Only being six months into implementing their Apprenticeship strategy means while the true organisational benefits may not be fully clear yet, a number of things are already being seen. Feedback received from their employees via surveys has shown that the opportunity to be invested in has been very well received, as it’s a demonstration that the organisation cares about them as individuals but also that their professional growth is important.

Greencore spoke to guests at our latest Apprenticeship Levy Conference at Wembley Stadium. See their video in full:

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