New president Julie Dunn unveils youth strategy at SWA conference

Julie Dunn, of Dunns Food and Drinks, is the new SWA president

Plans to ramp up training opportunities within the wholesale industry have been announced by the Scottish Wholesale Association (SWA) as part of a strategy to engage with young people and show them that wholesale is a viable career option.

President Julie Dunn, pointing out that many wholesalers struggled to recruit young people locally, confirmed that the association would,

in the coming months, be working with the youth training agency Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) which aims to bridge the gap between industry and education.

The move was announced at the SWA’s annual conference, which took place at the Crieff Hydro in Perth and Kinross, from 8-11 June.

Dunn said: “We need to show young people of all levels of educational attainment that wholesale is a viable destination and plays a vital role in keeping Scotland’s biggest industry – food and drink – on the move. We all know that there is money available for training – the Scottish Government has already invested £120m into the DYW programme with another £120m pledged.

“There are also plenty of providers locally offering us funded employability placements for school-leavers or apprenticeships. What we want to do for our members is to take away the pain and ensure that food and drink wholesaling is a nationally-recognised industry with nationally-recognised qualifications.”

Dunn, of Glasgow-based wholesaler Dunns Food and Drinks, was handed the ceremonial chains for her new role as president by outgoing SWA president and ex-Booker Wholesale man, Eddie Lynagh. She confirmed that working with skills development agencies, the SWA will build a suite of apprenticeships addressing the four core areas of wholesale – selling, operations, logistics and administration. “We will look for national provision,” she said. “And that training will be done on members’ sites.”

Dunn also outlined plans to review and modernise the way the SWA operates.

She said that while recent changes had been successful in focusing the SWA’s function to better reflect the needs of its membership, it was vital that it was in a strong position to address major strategic and commercial issues.

“We are a good association, but like many trade associations, we have been a bit sheltered from the forces which impact on our members in their everyday business environments – political, social, economic and technological,” she noted. “So how does the SWA be a great trade association? We’ll start by making sure that we are match-fit for the future.”

Other speakers at the SWA event included Booker Wholesale directors Andrew Muldoon and Steve Fox, who talked about Booker’s impressive growth trajectory over the last decade and about the need to offer a great food-to-go and fruit and veg offer, respectively, United Wholesale (Scotland) boss Asim Sarwar, who spoke about technology being pivotal to achieving growth in the channel, and a host of suppliers, including directors from Quorn, Philip Morris International, and Coca Cola European Partners.


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