DEMAND HAS been soaring from graduates looking to embark on a career within the food and fresh produce industry.

Speaking from Management Development Services, which arranges trainees placements within agri-food businesses, manager Kirsty Barden explained: “As the food industry responds to the wider pressures of the pandemic, Brexit and the economy, member companies are looking to take on more driven and able graduates than ever. We placed 50% more graduates in the Autumn, and the demand has increased by 50% again for this Spring.

"This is huge credit to the MDS trainees who have shown their true worth and capability, and particularly in the last few months when many have had to work autonomously from home," she continued. "We are delighted that this opening up of further positions will give more young people a chance to embrace a career in a dynamic, challenging and rewarding industry.”

During the two-year programme, each MDS graduate trainee undertakes four different six-month secondments in a wide range of member companies and roles, from harvest management to procurement, marketing, technical development and logistics.

Secondments are combined with formal off-the-job training, coaching and mentoring. The trainees are employed by MDS at a salary of £21,500 in the first year rising to £22,500 in the second year.

The training integrates a Level 5 Leadership and Management apprenticeship qualification – accredited by the Chartered Management Institute and developed with the industry in mind.

MDS currently has 66 graduates on the scheme – its highest number since the organisation was founded by three growers in 1986 – and in the past year has increased its member companies from 48 to 60 businesses in the agrifood and fresh produce sector..

For more information and to apply for the grad programme visit: