As part of my ongoing campaign to increase apprenticeships in the Borders, earlier this month I visited Greenvale AP near Chirnside to find out more about the business, as well as to meet their apprentices.
The company handles an extraordinary 600,000 tonnes of potatoes every year (20% of the UK’s potato production) and supplies many of the UK’s major retailers and food manufacturers, such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s and McCain.
Founded over 40 years ago, Greenvale AP is clearly a major player in the UK potato industry and has bases across the country. But it remains loyal to its Borders connections, with many of the senior management based here in Berwickshire. There’s a lot of impressive machinery at the site. But it is the people who make things happen and maintaining the skills base is essential.
Not surprisingly, Greenvale AP has a very strong modern apprenticeship scheme. Over the course of the programme, apprentices work toward a level 2 modern apprenticeship qualification in food manufacturing. As well as their apprenticeship scheme, two graduates a year are brought into the group management development programme. Ongoing training and development of people is important to the company.
It was a privilege to meet Ross and Jordan, who have both benefitted from the Greenvale AP apprenticeship scheme. The skills and expertise they have developed over the course of their apprenticeship programme are clear and impressive.
We need more local businesses to take on apprentices and follow the lead of Greenvale AP and others. A successful food production sector is vital to the prosperity of our region and I believe that with investment in apprenticeships we will all see the benefits.
As the Referendum date quickly approaches, I was glad to have the chance to speak in the House of Commons recently on Scotland’s place in the UK.
The debate was a chance to make some key points - that as part of the United Kingdom we have fantastic economic opportunities and protection, greater security and influence in the world and enjoy being part of the most successful partnership of nations in the world. The debate over the currency in the past week has underlined some of the key arguments.
We have a big choice coming up in September – whether to go it alone or remain as part of the most successful family of nations the world has ever known. Like many people across Berwickshire, I am proud to be Scottish, proud to be British, and I hope together we can keep the UK together.