Park Cake Bakery
Women and Work: Sector Pathways Initiative - Raising Skills and Unlocking Potential
Funding Helps Women Climb the Career Ladder
To help give women a little extra push on their way up the career ladder, Improve Food and Drink Skills Council and the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink launched the Women and Work Sector Pathway Initiative.
The initiative aims to raise recruitment levels in sectors where women are under-represented, increase earning potential and aid career progression. Its development has come in response to recommendations by the Women and Work Commission’s report ‘Shaping a Fairer Future’ and receives government funding, matched by employer contributions.
More and more opportunities are opening up for women to forge successful careers in food and drink.
Demand for ambitious, entrepreneurial and technical talent is high, and although the industry has traditionally been dominated by men, more and more companies are turning to women to fill vacancies at all levels.
Forecasts estimate that the industry will need to recruit 137,000 new workers by 2017, including 45,000 people in skilled professional, supervisory and management positions.
Improve the Food and Drink Skills Council, and the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink have made assisting employers in the development and training of female employees a strategic priority.
Supported by government funding, the Women and Work Sector Pathway Initiative has made available subsidised training for female workers with the specific aim of improving their access to senior roles.
Clare Keegan, Projects and Opportunities Manager at the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink, said:
“Food is a fast paced industry and businesses are facing pressing employment needs, and with the right skills, the right credentials and the right attitude, the sky really is the limit.”
“The Women and Work Sector Pathways Initiative has offered vital support in ensuring women have the skills employers want and encouraging them to grow in confidence, to potentially climb the ladder into more senior positions. Investing in your own personal development now could reap fantastic rewards further down the line.”
Case Study: Park Cakes Bakeries
Park Cakes is one of the UK’s leading manufacturer of retailer own brand cakes. Located in the north-west of England, Park Cakes manufactures high quality premium range cakes and desserts.
With more than 1000 employees at sites in Bolton and Oldham, the company sees management development as vital in implementing strategic changes across the business aimed at achieving improvements in efficiency and productivity.
Veronica Baldwin, Park Cakes’ Learning and Development Manager, first heard about the Women and Work Sector Pathways Initiative through an Improve newsletter.
“At the time I had four women in mind for further management and leadership development,” said Veronica. “They had all been with the company for between 10 and 20 years, what you would call real home-grown talent. They have progressed well through the company and their roles had grown with little direct development. As their roles were set to become more demanding and the opportunities for them to further progress have been identified, I wanted to give them some robust development to support this. The Women and Work Sector Pathways Initiative looked like it might deliver what we needed.”
Contacting Improve led to a meeting with Louise Codling, the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink’s bakery Skills Consultant. “Louise was brilliant,” said Veronica. “She understood the business and what we needed straight away, and after one conversation I knew the Women and Work initiative was right for us.”
“I also realised the scheme could benefit a lot more than the four women I had originally earmarked. I ended up putting forward 14 women working right across the business, from Bakery Management to NPD, HR, Process Development, CSR and Planning.”
After speaking to Louise, Veronica was referred to Manchester-based training provider Total Excellence Centre, a member of the National Skill Academy’s Leadership and Management Network.
“Total Excellence Centre were also fantastic,” said Veronica. “I trusted them to understand what we were looking for because they were members of the National Skills Academy, and they didn’t disappoint. They listened to what we needed and involved me closely in putting together a programme tailored to our business.”
The final programme covered four topics - personal effectiveness, leadership and team effectiveness, communicating effectively and behavioural understanding - and was delivered over six days at a conference centre in Manchester.
“Total Excellence Centre talked to all 14 at length about their expectations right from the start, so there was real buy-in from the group and their feedback has been excellent. One key outcome I wanted was to get the group to think outside the box a little and start to question the way both they and the business did things. You can see already the training has really delivered in that regard – as one said, it has helped them get off the hamster wheel and question whether everything around them could be done better.
“I think programmes like this are very important. Our company has a lot of female employees, but I do think women are under-represented higher up the ladder generally across the industry. I think facilitation is the key - I can think of one of our women, for example, who has been identified with potential for senior management roles but who hasn’t quite had the confidence to make full use of her abilities.
“This programme has been a great opportunity to support her and all of the others in gaining that confidence. If we’re looking at how to get more women into senior roles, I think enabling women to make best use of their talents is the way to go.”