1. Please give an overview of your role and what this involves on a day-to-day basis:
I am a trainee dairy technologist in my second year of three. I spend 12 weeks at college in my first year, 18 in my second and 12 in my third year. My daily tasks include studying, helping others, completing projects and daily tasks inside the PTD department. I interact with SMT at daily meetings, talk and work with operators and general interactions with visitors and contractors as required. I have completed two projects within QEHS and plan to start my final year project as well as some CAPEX projects.
2. Have you learnt any new skills or developed existing skills?
I have completed qualifications in health and safety, chemical handing, food manufacturing, COSSH and manual handling. I have done a chemical handling training course at Klenzan. I have learnt about chemistry, microbiology, mik derivatives, milk processing, butter and yellow fats, cheese and fermented products, cleaning-in-place and continuous improvement. I have learnt how to present confidently to people in larger numbers than before.
3. To what extent do you enjoy your programme?
I like going to work, I fit in well with the team and know how to do conflict resolution within the department and others. The company culture is good, the health and safety culture is strong. Furthermore, there is a strong adaptation to LEAN within the site and implementation is made easy by other staff across the site. It has met more than what I had expected. Initially it was just an apprenticeship to learn specifically in my role, as this was a new area to specialise in. I am still enjoying it, since I am in my second year of three.
4. How valued do you feel by Arla Foods?
I do feel valued in Arla Foods. This is because they are training and I feel like I have an important role in the business. Furthermore, because Arla specifically hired me for the apprenticeship, I have ideas that I would really like to bring to the company. This makes me feel valued, especially when I can be recognised and appreciated for work where it is due. Arla Foods have an employee of the month system and 'thank moo' cards which can be awarded to staff in recognition for contribution to work.
5. How well organised/structured is your programme?
The induction was organised on the first day at attending college, so we got to meet the lecturers and other students. It was very organised and made me feel welcome to the apprenticeship. The teaching at college is organised within blocks on a time tabler so that we are prepared and know what we are going to be learning that day and we can gather resources for that specific lesson. We have support meetings with our course manager every block to see how we are going and to ensure that we are going well, and we receive any help we need from the college. There is a well organised mentor support system which ensures that we are on track. Normally this mentor is your manager that you report to, to ensure that we keep on track. We have monthly and weekly meetings with our mentors to see how it is going and what we plan to do. We have tasks delegated to us from an action log to ensure that we are keeping up to track with our department and that we keep involement with the team and ask others for help, when they are set and timebound. I think that my programme has been well organised as we keep in contact with our college lecturers and we also have contact from our sites, which ever one we are away from.
6a. How much support do you receive from your training provider?
Our tutors have been very helpful, providing any support we may need at the time. Guidance from problems can be given from your mentor as well as at college, from the well-being team. Lecturers recognise when we might be struggling or require some form of help from others around us. The general attitude is that they want to help us when we ask for it.
6b. How much support do you receive from your employer?
My manager is my mentor also, so we can get support when it is required. A HR team member comes to visit us every few months to ensure that we are on track and asks us to do a presentation about our site and college experience so that they get an understanding from us EDEN students on how on track we are with our training. Accessibility is only a ocnversationa way or an email in some cases as some people work from other sites or travel. Guidance with problems is generally controlled and explained, so that we both have some understanding to what is happening. We get good response for asking for help, as we get an understanding and sympathetic repsonse from managers, HR and staff.
7. How well does your salary/package meet your costs?
Living costs away from home are paid for by the company so that we have no accommidation costs. Our travel expenses are paid for any course of travel within reason. Whether it is driving or taking the train, taxi ect. they are normally paid for the months salary packet so that we do not loose our money in travel expenses. Daily costs of food are covered by the company, as they give us a weekly food allowance so that we can get food from the college canteen. Reluctantly, the food choice are limited in the evening, but a short drive or walk and there is a supermarket located not far from the college, so if food and extra snacks or drinks are wanted then they can be purchased at our own expense.
8. Are there many opportunities outside of work?
I have been to an employers fair at the NEC in Birmingham, voluntarily representing dairy technology for Arla Foods. There are multiple opportunities and trianing events that can be attended both inside and outside of the company. There are opportunities on site that can be taken up, as if there is training required then it can be aquired. There is a walking fitness club onsite using Fitbit which I am a member of to monitor our activity as we walk around iste in the low care areas.
9. Would you recommend Arla Foods to a friend?
I would recommend specifically the EDEN programme as it is a good learning experience and in my opinion I think that Arla Foods is one of the better involved companies when it comes to organisation, mentor involvement and general work practices.
10. What tips or advice would you give to others applying to Arla Foods?
I think that the application process was easy and I did personally not have any problems with it. They kept me in communication throughout the process and we had many telephone interviews about the job. I had an interview with my mentor before being accepted. I personally did not have any assessments but I do believe that other EDEN students did. But because I applied so soon to the deadline, I did not have to carry these out. The onboarding process was through the college and I had a tour and induction to site in the first few months. I do not think that there was anything that I would liked to have been told before starting EDEN.
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