"The combination of work-based learning and academic study has helped to expand my understanding of the food industry" Hannah Forster


Hannah Forster is a food industry technical professional degree apprentice at The Serious Sweet Company, which produces confectionery for retailers’ own brands including M&S, Sainsbury’s, ASDA and Harrods as well as its own direct to consumer confectionery brand, STIRRD.

Hannah is studying her degree level apprenticeship with Sheffield Hallam University, which has given her the opportunity to experience career and learning opportunities in a varied, dynamic and challenging market and become a food professional of the future.

Hannah said: “The combination of work-based learning and academic study has helped to expand my understanding of the food industry. The apprenticeship has helped my confidence to grow, which has allowed me to develop new relationships with team members, retailers and supplier, and seek out new opportunities.”

Rob Whitehead, Owner of The Serious Sweet Company, added: “Apprentices bring bright, inquisitive minds to our business. They demonstrate youthful optimism and are ready to learn and grow to help improve not just themselves but the business too.

“The degree apprenticeship programme enables structured learning with clear objectives for the apprentice to achieve both in and out of the workplace. We have found the additional coaching and mentoring offered by Sheffield Hallam University a real help as a smaller business as it has provided us with a breadth of knowledge.

“As a smaller company, employing an apprentice has provided us with an additional resource in a very busy and virtual area of our business. Our apprentice works in new product development, working with customers to develop new product ranges. This covers a huge range of competencies from raw material sourcing and approving, packaging development and product trialling — representing the whole portfolio of our business.

“We find apprentices deliver a higher return on investment as they develop a holistic understanding of the business over a three-year period. This is important as we are a primarily seasonal business so the duration of the programme allows our apprentice to take on more responsibility each year as their knowledge increases.

“I would recommend degree apprenticeships to small, medium sized businesses as the scheme not only challenges the business but the individual as well. It is a great way to improve coaching and mentoring skills internally while providing development opportunities to key team members.”

Find out more about The Serious Sweet Company.

Find out more about Degree Level Apprenticeships with Sheffield Hallam University.