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Avara tackles the labour challenge head on

Avara Foods is investing in people, skills and the latest technology to be an employer that you want to work for; and continues to create new opportunities for a rewarding career.

The media is currently full of stories highlighting people shortages and record vacancies. The food sector like others, including hospitality, has been particularly impacted by these labour challenges and Avara Foods, Hereford’s largest employer, has been no exception.

Avara, has viewed this as an opportunity to strengthen its place as a local employer attracting people from all parts of the community. This started through COVID last year, with changes in facilities and ways of working ensuring a safe and secure environment which gave our colleagues confidence as they worked through the pandemic producing food for UK shoppers.

However, we also needed to do more to attract people from alternative jobs in a competitive market. In August Avara increased its pay rates in Hereford by over 10% and all our employees now earn at least £10 per hour, with no exceptions. There are no lower pay rates for younger colleagues at Avara. This stronger pay offer builds on traditional Avara strengths including permanent job roles from day 1, guaranteed hours of work and access to a host of employee benefits.

These new pay rates are clearly linked to skills progression. While we knew we had to invest in pay, we also saw an opportunity to recognise and incentivise skills. The skill structure gives all Avara colleagues the chance to move their career forward.

This reward approach is linked to a strategy focused on automating manual tasks, changing the nature of the work we offer. For many years our industry has been perceived as low skill, and low paid manual labour and it is time we put this perception in the history book where it belongs. We are committed to higher pay and skills connected to greater technology adoption. The transformation is already happening, and we have great opportunities for young and old to acquire new skills and work in a progressive community with a sustainable and exciting future offering long term security and career progression.

One example is the Kickstart programme, the Government’s scheme to help under 25’s to find the right career. Enjoying a warm welcome, dedicated support and a training programme that starts in week one, the first cohort on Avara’s Kickstart scheme are really flying.

The success of Avara’s Kickstart scheme is down to a tailored approach. By providing specific training and an understanding of the wider business, ‘Kickstarters’ gain a grounding in food manufacturing from the start. Keeping the group together, with a dedicated Team Leader has created a great team spirit and the group felt a valued part of the Avara team from day one.

Such has been the success of Kickstart, Avara are now recruiting for team two and expanding the scheme into a wider scheme for young people that fits alongside our apprentice and graduate programmes. There are 14 places available and they’re sure to fill up fast. If you’d like to see what the fuss is about or want to explore the many other great food career opportunities at Avara – get in touch at [email protected].

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