February 2015

Mondelez International and University College Birmingham join forces to create the chocolatiers of the future

Read time: approx 4 mins

Two trainee bakers are savouring the sweet taste of success as the first-ever chocolate apprentices at Mondelēz International, the home of Cadbury, in Birmingham. 

Abigail Rowley and Martin Raybould, apprentice bakers with University College Birmingham, work at Mondelēz’s global home for chocolate research and development at the famous Bournville site. 

The chocolate-maker has previously recruited engineering and maintenance apprentices but this is the first time post-16 trainees have been taken on in Bournville’s innovation centre, where teams work behind closed doors on the latest products for brands such as Cadbury Dairy Milk, Milka and Toblerone. 

The two-year apprenticeships are part of an exciting partnership between Mondelēz and University College Birmingham (UCB). Abigail and Martin were selected having completed Level 2 Diplomas in Professional Bakery at UCB and are honing their skills as chocolatiers and confectioners in a workplace collaboration jointly delivered by Mondelēz and the University. 

It is hoped the bespoke training programme will provide other local young people with invaluable industry experience in specialist areas such as artisan confectionery production, creativity and innovation, and consumer behaviour in the food industry. 

The programme has been developed in response to a business need within Mondelēz to help fill the skills gap faced by companies in the food and drink industry. It is hoped the collaboration will help create a pipeline of young talent to ensure Bournville in particular remains in the vanguard of chocolate innovation. 

The apprenticeships are a key part of an exciting partnership between UCB and Mondelēz to boost vocational training in the West Midlands. A new enhancement programme for the University’s booming Level 2 Professional Bakery course will include four annual visits at which Mondelēz experts will share chocolate-making knowledge and skills, research and development insights and career opportunities. The students’ bakery uniforms carry joint UCB/ Mondelēz branding. 

There are plans for a two-week technical academy to be held at the Bournville site at which UCB students will gain a deeper understanding of products, the manufacturing process, packaging and how to bring a product to market. 

As a company we have no problem recruiting great scientists, but getting someone with an understanding of the science and an appreciation of culinary arts is more challenging. So we have decided to home-grow some talent with the help of University College Birmingham. There is a recognition that we need to grow talent internally at Mondelēz. It is about understanding chocolatiers and how they work. There are very few chocolate-focused courses in the UK so we looked at existing courses and how we could put a spin on them. Professional bakery at UCB was a good fit, and UCB have been excellent partners in pulling the whole thing together. Having students with the breath of skills learned from bakery is very useful from Mondelēzs point of view. Mixing bakery and chocolate skills is really interesting for us as a company.

Noel Woollard, section manager in Mondelēz

The University is delighted to be working with Mondelēz to give young people superb training opportunities in Birmingham. UCB is a champion of vocational education and apprenticeships and we are delighted to be running such an innovative scheme with Mondelēz, a global brand with a local Birmingham heritage. Our full-time bakery students will also benefit from the partnership thanks to the enrichment programme Mondelēz is running in conjunction with UCB, including masterclasses from chocolatiers and professional skills insights.

Alex Lofthouse, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Performance & Partnerships) at UCB

Abigail and Martin, both 19 and from Dudley, are working as junior technicians in the pilot plant production team and will work towards a Level 3 Diploma for Proficiency in Food Industry Skills. 

Abigail said: “The apprenticeship with Mondelēz is an amazing opportunity. I have always had a creative streak and want to come up with new ideas while I work here.” 

The apprentices receive a salary of £12,000 and are assigned their own mentors at Bournville.

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