Building the future of the food industry through blending learning

Date : 04 June 2018

We know that developing talent, skills and capabilities are major strategic priorities for many food and grocery businesses, but the way people learn has changed. 

On-the-job experience and peer to peer networks are more widely recognised, and new technology enables different kinds of learning. People now access content in bite-sized chunks, blending online and classroom training to suit their needs.

That’s why last September we launched a pilot to test the impact blended learning can have on those new to the food and grocery industry. 

The pilot comprised a live webinar, online learning modules and an evening networking and career panel event. It was specifically aimed at providing a solid foundation upon which to build a successful career in food and grocery. 

As well as industry knowledge, key practical and transferable skills were also developed through modules on Excel and PowerPoint, resilience and building business relationships.

100 people from a variety of roles within 16 companies took park in the pilot, which ran for two months in 2017.

Delegates ranged from graduate recruits, trainees, apprentices, interns and new joiners across supply chain, digital, analyst, account and category roles.

The results 

More than 70% of participants completed the course to receive a certificate; in comparison, we expect a 50% completion rate for other free learning events and webinars. 

We also discovered that: 

  • 96% of pilot participants said they were likely to continue their career in the industry as a result of participating 
  • 84% said they believe taking part will help them add value to their company
  • 90% of learners said they would recommend the programme to others new to the industry 
  • We saw a nearly 50% increase in learner’s confidence in their own industry knowledge

We spoke to delegate Hannah Irvine, Agriculture Intern, Sainsbury’s to find out more about her blended learning experience, and what she found most interesting about the programme. 

Q: How would you sum up your experience of the Fast Track in Food and Grocery pilot programme?

A: Overall, I believe that the training course was a valuable asset to my understanding of the retail industry in my first few months of this position. 

The Fast Track [in Food and Grocery] programme was an engaging experience and improved my knowledge of this exciting and dynamic industry. 

The course was [also] complementary to my internal training; the program enhanced a broader understanding of industry, facilitating a smooth integration within the business more quickly, as I was able to interact using real industry language. 

Q: What parts of the programme did you most enjoy? 

A: The PowerPoint and Resilience videos. 

I must say I didn’t know PowerPoint had so many functional features; my eyes have been opened! 

Skills like these, while quite basic, are an enabler to much more advanced work and will help deliver more visually impressive presentations.

The video on resilience focused on how – and why – a person may deal with different and difficult situations in varying ways.

Having watched the video, I now have a better understanding of my own, as well as others’, responses to challenging situations. I would like to continue further developing such skills as these.

Q: How did you find the experience of blended learning? 

A: The varying media and blended learning experience kept the course refreshing and engaging. 

The majority of the learning experience was online, meaning that it was flexible to my work schedule and could be completed in my own timescales.

The course was very interactive, yet still really simple to use. The combination of content and easy use online platform was a great benefit to the course.

This year

In 2018 we’re rolling Fast Track in Food and Grocery out to the wider industry, tripling the number of places available and increasing the number of companies taking part. Find out more about the programme here.

We’re also able to develop customised blended learning programmes for companies looking for non-traditional training. Blended learning can really benefit companies who operate globally across physical and virtual teams, and businesses looking to cater to diverse learning styles.

Leave your details if you have a particular business challenge you’re looking for help with or just need some learning inspiration.

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