Attleborough food manufacturer training praised by Norfolk MEP

A Norfolk food manufacturer yesterday showcased the benefits of a scheme which integrates European workers into the community and its business.

Bosses and employees from Kerry Foods, in Attleborough, met with Norfolk MEP Richard Howitt at Poultec Training in South Green Park, Mattishall, near Dereham, where the company was awarded for its commitment and investment for Skills for Life training.

Scott Turner, general manager of the Kerry Foods Attleborough site, added he was very pleased and a number of the employees who completed the Stepping-stones course this year showed great promise.

Kerry Foods set up a site in the south norfolk town in 1996, and it produces chilled ready meals for Asda, Tesco and Sainsbury's. The company also has 21 other factories across Britain and Ireland.

Mr Turner said that 240 people work at the Attleborough site and 60pc of its employees are from Europe, including Poland, Portugal,Latvia and Lithuania.

The �1.2m Skills for Life programme and the money to run it between 2008 and 2011, for 3,333 people across East Anglia, was provided by the European Social Fund.

Poultec Training was one of the leaders of the course and 95 employees from Kerry Foods completed the year-long project, which teaches European workers English, maths, numeracy, British culture and politics and health and safety.

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After employees have finished the course they then have the opportunity to complete further qualifications, including apprenticeships and NVQs.

A few of this year's cohorts from Kerry Foods have also become line managers in charge of between 13 and 15 workers.

Justinas Tverskis, 25, of Diss, works at Kerry Foods in Attleborough and was one of the employees who completed the Stepping-stones course.

He said he would encourage any worker, who comes from Europe, to do the training and added that he liked Norfolk because it was friendly.

'The course has allowed me to communicate better with my managers and other workers. I want to do more training, any time, anywhere,' Mr Tverskis added.

Mr Howitt said: 'The training is very important. People cannot integrate unless they speak English and, more than that, understand local culture and traditions. People who say they (migrants) want to live in ghettos and migrant communities are absolutely wrong.

'In this time of economic doom and gloom, some employers give a frosty reception to investing in skills and training but it's great to see that Kerry Foods hasn't slid in to this trap.'

He added that the food processing industry was crucial to Norfolk.

Rachel �ner, Skills for Life programme manager at Poultec Training, added: 'The course is vitally important because these are workers which cannot get out into the community because they need support in the workplace.'

Some 30 companies in Norfolk have used Poultec Training to lead the Stepping-stones course, which are mainly in the manufacturing industry, according to Mrs �ner.

The project as a whole was administered by the Association of Colleges of the Eastern Region.

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