National Apprenticeship Week:
Wholegrain ingredient producers EDME celebrate apprentice success
Next week (6 – 10 March) is National Apprenticeship week. Among local employers celebrating current and past apprentices are Mistley-based EDME, producers of natural, wholegrain ingredients.
Over a period of time, EDME has taken on a number of apprentices and trainees – some now filling vital, full time, permanent roles in the business. These include site director Jason Powell who started his career at the company on a youth training scheme. That was 30 years ago. Now he is responsible for the whole site, the production of thousands of tonnes of flour and flakes, and all the engineering that supports the production.
He says, “It’s great to have a team of highly experienced operators. But equally as important are motivated youngsters keen to be trained and to earn permanent places in the company. It’s crucial that the food industry - which nourishes the nation - attracts some of the best talent in the country.”
Jordan Peck and Luke Nesbitt
As suppliers of ingredients to bakers and manufacturers in other food sectors, quality is EDME’s top priority. The company was recently awarded top score in the industry’s main accreditation scheme – and, as laboratory manager Gavin Mulligan says, “The aim is to keep achieving those high standards.” The lab plays an essential role, constantly monitoring the products - and ensuring that everything leaving the premises is of the highest quality, and to customer specifications.
“Our two apprentices are performing a great job. They understand the importance of what they’re doing. They know how to take and examine samples; how to test; and what to look for. They’ve become extremely efficient at performing vital checks, and are keen to learn about all areas of the business.
“The fact we’ve given them important responsibilities - closely supervised, of course - is testament to their hard work and positive attitudes. They will go far.”
They are Jordan Peck, 19, in his first year of apprenticeship and Luke Nesbitt, 20, in his second year. The duo work in the EDME lab four days a week, with one day saved for college lessons.
“We can make a big impact, even though we’re still apprentices,” Says Luke. “To a large extent, we control what can or can’t go out of the gates. It’s a lot of responsibility – particularly since it’s the food industry, where quality and safety matters so much.”
Jordan adds, “We had to prove our attention to detail before the trust was put in us. Obviously, our results are double-checked, but we still play a key role in the passing or failing of products. It’s great to feel an important part of the company.
“Part of our training was to see and learn about the process the ingredients go through, and to understand the science. The whole thing has been great – and, as well as getting on top of the chemistry, we now know loads more about the supply chain, manufacturing and what goes into getting food on to supermarket shelves.”
Stephen joined EDME as an apprentice straight from leaving Manningtree High School at the age of 16. Since then, he has progressed in the company and is now working full time as a maintenance engineer.
“I always wanted to learn the practical way and felt that an apprenticeship was the best route for me. It was great that I could apply all the theory I learnt in college to the critical hands-on tasks I was doing at EDME.”
The company has a number of production facilities, ranging from a state-of-the-art Gluten Free Mill to a pristine new Mixing Plant. Stephen and the maintenance team work shifts so someone is always on hand to make sure the machinery runs smoothly, 24 hours a day.
“We have a big responsibility in the company to keep the production process working. The maintenance team are play a massive role in the production of tens of thousands of tonnes of flour and flakes each year.”
“I certainly wouldn’t be where I am now if it wasn’t for the apprenticeship – it gave me a vast amount of experience and prepared me for the challenges of my current role.”
A trip to EDME with Manningtree High School spurred Robbie Crathern on to want to take up a role as an apprentice electrician at EDME.
“I didn’t really have a plan after leaving school. I thought about joining the British Army, but then during a tour at EDME, discovered a liking for the place - and applied to be an apprentice electrician.”
Looking for a way of learning and using practical skills, Robbie felt he had found a great home.
“We get to do both mechanical and electrical work, which are both very hands-on. It’s good to feel an integral part of the company, and to know how important we are to the food supply chain.
“Other than needing less supervision, there hasn’t been a huge change in my role since I joined as an apprentice. That goes to show how good the training was andhow well-prepared my apprenticeship left me.”
Supervisor to both Stephen and Robbie, Nigel Bradford is no stranger to the process of getting a foot on the ladder.
“Before joining EDME as an electrician on the shop floor, I started work as an electrical apprentice at another company. Now as a supervisor, I like to give others a chance and help them gain experience.
“Stephen and Robbie are fine examples of young people with the right attitude, who have gained a lot from apprenticeships – and who will give a lot back over the course of their careers. Good for them – and for apprentices across the region. They are the future!”