MDS Awards Ceremony

January 21, 2021

One of the unique benefits of MDS is the networking opportunities we provide for our Members and Trainees. Every January and June we host our Meet the Trainees event which allows Trainees and Members to come together and discuss secondments and future career opportunities and aspirations. We also use the event to celebrate the success of our Trainees and the support of our Members. This week during our virtual event we were proud to award the Doug Henderson Award for professional development to Celia Robles Angel and the Peter Sheppard Award for Member engagement to Protolan. This year we have introduced a new award in memory of a previous Chairman; David Bagshaw. The David Bagshaw award is presented to the Trainee who has delivered to the highest standard in all aspects of the apprenticeship programme, and was awarded to Oliver Black.

All of our Members have surpassed our expectations over the last year as we worked together to secure secondments for a record numbers of Trainees, however Protolan stood out to us on this occasion. Protolan have offered numerous secondments in project management and they have recruited MDS Trainees into permanent positions at the end of the programme. They have supported trainees working from home due to the COVID pandemic and have offered Trainees an all-round excellent development opportunity. Richard Whittle is also an MDS director and has taken time from his core business to support MDS and the team. During our most recent round of Secondments Protolan exceeded our expectations in order to accommodate a trainee that needed to start their secondment 7 months early. Over the course of a weekend, the role was agreed upon and a start date organised. Protolan already had an MDS trainee in situ and this agreement was outside of their original plan. These are just a few examples of how Protolan always strive to support MDS and evidence their dedication to developing future leaders.

The winner of the Doug Henderson award, Celia Robles Angel has excelled through all her secondments. This includes volunteering to direct an environmental project to reduce plastic waste, delivering a comprehensive website, and volunteering to support a trials team by spending days in all weathers helping them monitor, counting and digging out different crops. Celia saw every opportunity as a means of learning and developing. In her most recent role, she became an expert in Mural (a digital collaboration tool) and virtually trained over 200 people, which enabled projects to remain on deadline despite being in the midst of a pandemic. Further to this whilst working with her secondment manager, she facilitated a series of major global workshops with over 100 participants and saved over $60k in the process. Celia has also built a reputation for excellent peer support making herself available to Trainees going into her previous roles, creating manuals, and ensuring comprehensive training plans are organised before she completes the role.

Our apprenticeship programme is designed to develop knowledge and test how the knowledge is being applied in practice. The David Bagshaw award is presented to the Trainee who has delivered to the highest standard in all aspects of the apprenticeship programme. we were delighted to present this award to Oliver Black who has completed secondments at Cobrey Farm, 2 separate roles at Syngenta Basel and is currently seconded to Morrisons. In each role he has been determined to deliver, meet objectives and increase his skills.
Throughout the apprenticeship, Oliver consistently submitted essays that exceeded expectations. His assignments delve deeper than the advised minimum, and he explores an answer from all angles and delivers well-referenced sources outside of those suggested by The Chartered Management Institute (CMI). His work has proven to be amongst the best submitted across all trainees. Feedback from The Apprenticeship College reported his 501 submission “The principles of management and leadership with an organisational context” was being held as an example of best practice for future trainees. As well as his outstanding achievements in his written assignments Oliver has approached all secondment opportunities with enthusiasm, developing skills and knowledge beyond the initial outline of each role. This ranges from providing maternity cover for the Technical Manager at Cobrey, finding and shaping opportunities at Syngenta, through to his current project role at Morrisons where he has been entrusted to manage projects with high levels of complexity.

We would like to congratulate all of our award winners and we look forward to seeing how our Trainees develop over the coming 6 months and continuing to work closely with our Members to support them in developing their leadership pipelines.

MDS welcomes a new Cohort

April 22, 2020

It has been an unusual start for our spring intake but we are happy to welcome group 47 to MDS. We have had to look into our onboarding process and work in collaboration with our member companies in order to give this new cohort the best start to their MDS journey as possible. 25% of the trainees have started their first roles working from home so getting them inducted and set up in roles has been unusual. Our members have been outstanding in getting the trainees set up in their roles and we are sure that this experience will not diminish the impact this cohort will have during their secondments.

We also bid farewell to group 43 as they come to the end of their MDS experience. As always we are very proud of what our trainees have achieved and we wish them well in their future careers.

MDS and Covid-19 Update

March 20, 2020

MDS is currently operating as usual. We are in constant contact with all of our members and trainees and plans have been put in place to ensure that training and secondments take place as planned.

We are accepting applications as normal and the first stages of the process are unaffected. For those applicants that are invited to assessment days , these will be held virtually. Successful applicants will receive details of this in due course.

We are aware that many graduates or current students may have had to cancel plans to travel over the summer. You may therefore be looking for temporary or seasonal work instead. We are teaming up with a number of our members to promote seasonal working opportunities  and besides a method of earning over the summer many of these positions offer opportunities to work outside, learn new skills and in some cases accommodation is provided. Why don’t you use your summer to make new friends and gain an insight into the agricultural industry. Please have a look on our vacancies page for more details.

Trainee Awards

February 13, 2020

We are always looking for ways to celebrate the success of our trainees. As such, we recently decided to put forward three trainees for the Target National Graduate Recruitment Awards. After much deliberation we identified 13 trainees that we felt had really stood out due to their achievements during their secondments, their involvement during training days and their representation of MDS. Our initial selection of trainees included:

  • Ellie Churchill
  • Krystian Wisniewski
  • Clare Powell-Tuck
  • Danielle Grootes
  • Larissa Keyte
  • Catherine Russell
  • Robert Ward
  • Hayley Wilson
  • Alexandros Benakis
  • Harriet Duxburry
  • John Gonzales
  • Gwenaelle Mateos
  • Paivi Pirhonen

After the trainees had submitted evidence of their achievements, and with much deliberation, we put Alexandros Benakis forward for the Rising Star award and Ellie Churchill and Clare Powel-Tuck forward for Apprentice of The Year. We are delighted to announce that Alexandros made it onto the final shortlist in his category. We would like to congratulate Alexandros and all the other trainees, and we look forward to receiving the final results in April. Alexandros was also recently awarded the Doug Henderson award.

We are now eligible to be considered for the Graduate Employer of the Year Award. Part of the submission requirements for this award are that current trainees and Alumni complete a questionnaire about their experiences on the programme. If you feel you would like to help us with our submission, please follow the link below. This will be an amazing opportunity for us to be recognised for all the hard work our members, trainees and the MDS team put into the graduate scheme and how we are developing the future leaders of the Food and Fresh Produce Industry.

Celebrating 50 member companies!

October 2, 2019

We are very excited to announce that we now have 50 MDS member companies!  We have come a long way since MDS was established in 1986 by G’s, Greens of Soham and QV Foods (now known as AH Worth).

Over the summer we have had 7 new members join us, all of whom will be taking on their first trainee during the upcoming winter secondment period. We would like to welcome Corteva, The James Hutton Institute, JDM Food Group Ltd, Scottish Agronomy Ltd, Morrisons Ltd, NIAB and Greencell Ltd to MDS. We look forward to continuing our growth as we work in co-operation with all of our members to provide a graduate scheme like no other.

MDS Open Morning 26th September

August 22, 2019

Here at MDS we are very aware of the difficulties involved in hiring and developing the right people to become the future leaders within the food and fresh produce industry. At MDS we recruit the highest calibre graduates, give them experience and training, so that they can go on to benefit our member companies.

We will be hosting an open morning on Thursday the 26th of September in Peterborough. During the morning there will be the opportunity to meet with some of our members and trainees to discuss how MDS has helped them to recruit for the future of their businesses. Please click here for further details MDS Open Breakfast Invite

We are proud to support Agrespect

October 25, 2018

MDS are delighted to announce that they have signed the Agrespect pledge, promoting diversity in farming communities.

“We stand against prejudice and support rural LGBTQ+ diversity, inclusion and enablement”

We fully support Agrespect’s mission and belief that people live their best lives when they live authentically. Agrespect aims to promote diversity in rural communities and to share LGBTQ+ people’s stories, to demonstrate that being different should be celebrated and should not be a barrier to living and working in the countryside.

MDS works to supply food and fresh produce industry with young talent and we are proud to recruit graduates from a variety of backgrounds to increase diversity in the industry; those originally from a farming background as well as city-dwellers, varying ethnicities, religions, sexualities and academic backgrounds. We are therefore actively working with the belief that the industry needs diversity to continue to grow, and in today’s very challenging environment makes this need even more urgent.

To find out more about Agrespect, including other organisations that have signed the pledge, visit:


MDS Training Programme Becomes Apprenticeship

August 16, 2018

There has never been a more exciting time to get involved in MDS. Over the last two years, MDS has been working to increase the number of trainees it recruits, as well as to fine tune its training programme, ensuring that trainees receive an accredited qualification at the end of the two year programme. To this end, MDS has forged a partnership with Quantet Group to convert the programme into an apprenticeship, providing a more attractive offering to trainees and members alike.

We are pleased to announce that from the autumn, the training programme will become a Level 5 Leadership and Management apprenticeship, accredited by the Chartered Management Institute. The additional benefit of this is that MDS members will be able to put their own staff through the MDS training programme using their levy.

The changes will also enable MDS to fund trainees’ off the job training either by members passing down up to 10% of their unused levy or by co-government funding. This will ensure that costs for training MDS trainees are kept to a minimum.

The programme is exclusive to MDS and its members and is ideal for employees showing leadership potential. The partnership between MDS and the Quantet Group has gone a step further than the minimum standard for this qualification, as the programme covers both the requirements for the Level 5 Operations/Departmental Apprenticeship Standard plus five additional sessions to deliver skills specifically for the food & fresh produce sector. This would usually only be offered at a significant additional cost above the levy, but MDS together with Quantet can offer this programme inclusive of all the additional courses within the set levy fee.

The cost of the 2 year training programme is £9,000. However, members with funds in their levy can use this to fund training for their own employees. Those members who have used their levy or who are not levy payers can still access the training as Quantet can access 90% of costs through government funding. The fee to these members for the 2 year programme would therefore be just £900.

The next programme will start in October 2018. Please contact if you have employees who would benefit from developing their management skills and you would like to put them on the training programme.

We look forward to receiving your enquiries and to developing the potential for collaborative training.

Would you like to work for MDS?

June 26, 2018

We have an opportunity to join the MDS team as Development Manager.

This is an exciting opportunity for an individual, committed to driving improvements with the ability to support all levels of staff to meet the agreed standards. Reporting to the Chief Operating Officer you will ensure that members, trainees and training providers are competent to meet current and future requirements. To achieve this, you will review training and development plans, manage training systems and prepare learning and development material to deliver a successful training strategy as well as an ability to improve business practice.

For more information please contact