Workforce change in a move to a younger staff

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IFA had considered taking on apprentices in 2008, due to an ageing workforce, but a slow-down postponed the move for two years.

Two years later they were “much more keen” because they realised that without new staff eventually they couldn’t continue, said HR manager Katy Edmonds.

She added: “In 2001 there was a management buy-in. It was quite a young business. The teams recruited then have settled in and everyone is over 40.”

The removal of the retirement age meant workers didn’t have to leave at 65 - one is 67 - but the physical nature of the job means most leave earlier. It can also be dangerous.

She added: “We manage our safety proactively in what is traditionally a dangerous industry. It can be a hostile environment for the apprentices. We do not have a training school, so their training has to be carried out in live production conditions while meeting strict quality and safety standards.”