The latest group of newly-qualified fresh produce managers has graduated at a special ceremony at Harper Adams University.
The 16 graduates have spent the last two years completing a Postgraduate Certificate in Food and Fresh Produce Management delivered by MDS (Management Development Services) and accredited by Harper Adams.
Graduates from groups 28 and 29 were invited to the university’s Regional Food Academy on Friday to receive their certificates and to celebrate their successes with friends and family.
The event was opened by Link Co-ordinator and Harper Adams lecturer, Richard Taylor, and the graduates and their guests were welcomed by the university’s Vice-Chancellor, Dr David Llewellyn, before chairman of MDS Ltd, Doug Henderson, presented the awards.
Mr Henderson said: “We should be celebrating the fact that all our trainees have been offered good jobs within our industry – a record that MDS has maintained during these troubled economic times.
“This I believe gives a very clear indication that our trainees are properly equipped to successfully manage the very diverse activities within our industry.
“Looking forward, the demand for MDS graduates remains strong. Things are looking very positive for MDS.”
The course, which saw its first official graduation in 2009, combines training, personal development and secondments with four employers.
Anna Playfair-Hannay, from Scotland, has secured a full-time role since completing MDS as part of the agriculture team at M&S in London.
The 24-year-old, who studied Agri-Business Management at Newcastle University, said: “I’m from a farming background and always had a passion for food and wanted to stay within the agri-food sector and MDS covered both aspects of that.
“I have loved MDS. It’s been a great experience for the two years that I have been on it. I have learnt a great deal and have met some amazing people on MDS but also within the companies I have worked with.”
Anthony Clark, who was born in Greece before moving to Scotland, now works in Kent for Mansfields, one of the largest fruit growing, storage and packing operations in the UK.
The 25-year-old, who studied Biotechnology and Strategic Management at the University of Edinburgh before MDS, said: “The major draw of MDS was the fact you get great experience on-the-job and, along with that, you had off-the-job training with various courses and a Postgraduate Certificate with Harper Adams, and that meant you actually had something on paper other than a CV to go and market yourself on.
“I have really enjoyed MDS. I feel quite lucky to have experienced it. It’s got me to a great position in a great place in the country so it’s treated me extremely well. I could not have asked for anything more from the programme.”
James Bradshaw, from Lincolnshire, applied for MDS after graduating from Reading University with an Agricultural Business Management degree.
The 25-year-old said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed MDS. It has been a good opportunity to meet lots of people, have live experience and responsibility as well as having the training programme behind it.
“After finishing MDS last year I’m now working for Tesco in their head office in Cheshunt in their produce category managing fruit and whole foods.”
MDS Ltd and Harper Adams launched the Postgraduate Certificate in Food and Fresh Produce Management in October 2007, when it was the first course of its kind. The accredited two-year course revolves around four secondments of about six months each, combined with off-the-job learning from external tutors, many of whom are industry experts.