Food ingredients manufacturer Macphie partnered with Laurencekirk-based Mearns Academy to highlight how pupils can apply what they learn in school to workplace scenarios.

Combining elements of business management and home economics, Macphie’s team supported a product development project which saw third-year pupils come up with a new, healthy cake concept including a brand name and promotional materials.

Macphie’s marketing and research & development teams kick-started the project in October 2017 by providing insight into how they approach product development – describing both the challenges and highlights of the development cycle, where they take inspiration from and how they work together to meet the needs of their customers.

Over the next three months, pupils worked in groups to research healthy ingredients, test flavour combinations, trial products and design promotional materials before presenting their ideas in a Dragon’s Den style fashion to their peers and Macphie representatives on their return in January 2018.

In their groups, pupils presented their research findings, talked through their chosen ingredients and showcased their advertising campaigns before letting the panel taste-test their final product.

Flavours included ginger & apricot, peach & vanilla and beetroot, decaf coffee & chocolate.

Macphie’s Channel Product Manager Zoe Smart

Mearns Academy Home Economics Teacher Lynne Howe said, "Having involvement from Macphie has been great and the pupils have taken real pride in presenting their ideas.

"It's good for us to show how the work they're doing now in school can be translated into the workplace and to highlight the range of job opportunities beyond those pupils might associate with the food and drink industry.”

Macphie’s Channel Product Manager Zoe Smart said, "We were really impressed with the enthusiasm and creativity shown towards this project.

“As well as coming up with a new flavour, the pupils had carried out consumer research, sensory evaluations and come up with ideas to advertise their product.

"It was great to see how they had taken some of our suggestions and built them into them into their own projects.”

Located just eight miles apart, Macphie and Mearns Academy formalised their agreement in June 2017 before developing a range of activities to inform pupils of the breadth of opportunities in Scotland’s growing food industry and strengthen Macphie’s position as a socially responsible employer.

The Macphie team has explored other opportunities to engage with the future workforce including “introduction to industry” workshops and mock interviews with fourth-year pupils as well as career events with all year groups and parents.

A donation of over £8,000 was made by Macphie to the school to fund a suite of iPad pros, keyboards and a charging station. These are being used to facilitate DYW lessons which cover employment skills including CV writing, searching for jobs and researching potential employers.

Macphie fund a suite of iPad pros, keyboards and charging station

“Our engagement with schools and universities forms part of our wider commitment to support the communities in which we operate. “It supports talent attraction by positioning Macphie as a responsible employer but also appeals to our current workforce. We recognise a real sense of pride from employees who noticeably enjoy being part of a company that’s doing the right thing. “As well as developing skills in pupils, school projects have enhanced and stretched the capabilities of our own employees by offering opportunities to share their expertise, mentor learners and make a difference.” Louise Shankley, CSR and Engagement Executive ·