At Rathfinny, we are big believers in providing work experience and investing in staff training. The English wine industry is still fairly young so it’s important we take an active role in upskilling the next generation of winemakers, viticulturalists, hospitality professionals and the multitude of roles now available in running a wine business. This is particularly important to us as a B Corp.

Age is no barrier in our teams and we’re so proud to have a diverse roster in our extended Rathfinny family. Indeed, many join us for a new way of life post-retirement or as a second or third career.

Over the years, we’ve welcomed seasonal interns from Plumpton College and across the world to learn about winemaking and production, as well as providing work experience o local students. One of our greatest achievements is the Rathfinny Research Lab at Plumpton College which opened in 2014 to show our commitment to the education of viticulture and oenology. Plumpton is a major player on the world stage for wine research.

Here’s an insight into the apprenticeship experience of Ashley Mignot, our Assistant Production Manager and Former Apprentice at the National Centre of Food Manufacturing who recently completed his Level 5 Certification of Higher Education: Operations and Departmental Management

Ash recently completed an extensive two-year apprenticeship in ‘Manufacturing and Operations Management’ at the National Centre of Food Manufacturing (NCFM), a satellite campus of Lincoln University.

As the first member of the UK wine industry to attend this course, he gained valuable knowledge and skills from the broader UK food and drink industry, which he has brought back to Rathfinny.

Study topics included people management, food safety, food science, energy and the environment, business, food processing and engineering, factory design and project management. The apprenticeship concludes with a final workplace project which Ash specialised in applying lean production methodology, achieving a distinction grade.

Ash Giving a Talk
Ash on the Bottling Line

“With a strong culture of continuous professional and personal development at Rathfinny, I am extremely grateful for the opportunities and the investment of time and resources I have been given.

The apprenticeship provided invaluable knowledge, skills, and confidence to seek improvements and solutions to challenges associated with wine production and wider business.

With an excellent balance of remote and on-site learning, I would highly recommend NCFM apprenticeships for anyone who wishes to receive further education and gain a better understanding of the food and drinks industry all whilst remaining in work; being able to learn whilst you earn.

For employers, apprenticeships are great for development of talent and staff retention. Often incorporating a work portfolio and/or project, apprenticeships encourage apprentices to explore new concepts and ideas, aiding to a department’s or business’s continuous improvement; a win-win for all parties.”

This apprenticeship and training give Ash a unique edge in the industry, and his expertise has since played a critical role in light weighting secondary packaging, reduction in material wastage on the labelling line and increasing labelling efficiency by 50% through input and labour management. His work also assisted in the department being accredited with ‘BRCGS Start! Intermediate’ and the wider business receiving B-CORP certification.

Well done to Ash and all the interns, apprentices and staff members who have worked hard to develop their skills over the year – we look forward to watching their journeys.