Finnebrogue hails thriving young apprentices for helping to feed the nation during Covid crisis

DOWNPATRICK food producer Finnebrogue Artisan has hailed two of its star young apprentices for the “extraordinary” work they have done to help feed the nation during the Covid crisis.Engineering apprentices Henry Greer (20) and Taylor Broggy (19) have been picked out for particular praise by Finnebrogue.

They have been working in the firm’s growing engineering team to help keep production lines running and robots operating so food can effectively be packaged, produced and delivered to supermarket shelves around the UK.

Finnebrogue now employs more than 700 people at its Downpatrick base and has been operational throughout lockdown to ensure supermarket shelves remain stocked. Its apprentices have played a vital role in meeting increasing demand from supermarkets in recent weeks.

Chris Overend, head of HR at Finnebrogue Artisan, said: “We are immensely proud of both Henry and Taylor. They have stepped on enormously since they joined us and have both made fantastic contributions to the business, particularly over the last few months.

“They have demonstrated what can be achieved with hard work and determination. They have enjoyed being in a face-paced and stimulating working environment and have risen to all the challenges that have been set. We are very lucky to have them both.

“We’re pleased our apprenticeship scheme is providing valuable opportunities to local young people. It has given them the opportunity to learn on the job with thorough training, knowledgeable mentors and developing practical skills.

“The young are tipped to be the most vulnerable to the post-pandemic economic storm on the horizon, so apprenticeship schemes like ours will be more vital than ever in the year or two to come.

“We are now looking at ways in which we can expand the programme to give more local young people like Henry and Taylor opportunities to combine training with work.”

Engineering apprentice Henry Greer said: “I joined Finnebrogue in the summer of 2018 having heard positive stories about the company and the opportunities it had to offer, and I chose engineering as my career path.

“My apprenticeship has allowed me to do what I love every day and learn at the same time. It has developed my skills far beyond the university route would have done. Thanks to the in-depth training, my skills in diagnosis and repair have improved and I’ve worked my way up in a short space of time. I’m now handling the robots in automation which is interesting and challenging. Every day I learn something new and I love it.”

Taylor Broggy, who joined as an apprentice last September, added: “I’ve always had an interest in engineering and Finnebrogue has given me the opportunity to explore that interest and find a job I love. The apprenticeship means I can develop new skills through hands-on training which is the best way to understand the industry.

“The training has meant my confidence in handling machinery has improved in a very short space of time. I’ve learned so much in just eight months and I can’t wait to keep learning new skills.”

Finnebrogue Artisan typically produced 800,000 packs of sausages and burgers a week before the crisis. Since Covid-19, this figure has now jumped to 1.5 million.

The firm – whose turnover has grown from £3 million in 2009 to £120m today – is accelerating its recruitment programme as it sets about further turbo-charging its growth over the next couple of years, and it says its apprenticeship programme will be a vital part of its efforts to employ more local people.