MDS Graduate Scheme
Location Nationwide
Starts ASAP
Deadline 27 Oct 2024

Join the MDS Graduate Scheme

MDS is the UK’s foremost provider of management training for the food industry. Founded in 1986 as a not-for-profit membership organisation, we create a pipeline of well trained, capable leaders to work in all aspects of the food supply chain.

What you will be doing

The MDS graduate scheme is like no other. Designed for university leavers with leadership potential, it challenges from the start. Trainees develop their leadership skills in roles with real responsibility in several different companies during the two-year programme. At the same time, you will work towards a Level 5 Leadership and Management qualification, Operations and Departmental Manager, accredited by the Chartered Management Institute.

MDS members are industry leading businesses and represent all aspects of the food, fresh produce, horticulture and agriculture supply chain, from growers to supermarkets. During your two years at MDS, you will undertake at least three placements of 6 – 12 months in member companies, giving you the broadest possible opportunity and experience. This allows you to explore your strengths, motivation and ideal fit without making a long-term commitment to one role or business.

You will be given time off by your placement to attend the modular training necessary to achieve our formal leadership qualification specific to the food industry. Throughout the programme, you will also be supported with mentoring to help you reach your potential.

As our members are based around the UK (and some overseas) you should expect to relocate for each new placement. The roles available cover the full range of disciplines, from marketing to engineering, operations to HR, logistics to business planning. You may find that you spend six months running a project in a food processing plant and then move to a grower organising harvesting and analysis. What you can be sure of is that whichever roles you undertake, you will be expected to deliver results: MDS trainees have a reputation for achieving objectives through creative problem-solving.

At the end of the programme, our members are invited to make offers of permanent roles to our trainees, which usually results in every individual securing employment. MDS alumni now number over 500 and hold senior positions in many leading businesses

What you will have

To be considered for MDS, you will need to demonstrate leadership potential. Whilst academic achievement is important, and most of our trainees have achieved at least a 2:1 degree, it is not the primary basis on which we select our trainees. We are interested in hard-working, highly motivated people who are able to develop their own ideas, set realistic goals and lead others.

This is a fast-paced industry in which salaries are rising quickly. Trainees are employed by MDS at £24,000 per annum, rising to £25,000 in year two.

MDS plays an important part in promoting the food supply chain as an exciting career choice. We look for the skills and attitudes that meet the needs of this fast-paced industry and each person is carefully mentored to ensure they reach their potential.

What you will get

This is a fast-paced industry in which salaries are rising quickly. Trainees are employed by MDS at £24,000 per annum, rising to £25,000 in year two. As well as that we offer:

- Relocation allowance

- Chartered Management Institute approved qualification

- Dedicated mentoring

- 28 days holiday - Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)

- Interest free starter loan

Learn more about MDS

We are MDS

The Fresh Produce and Food industry is the largest manufacturing sector in the country and MDS nurtures talented graduates to become future leaders in this innovative, diverse, and sustainable industry. 

About us

MDS is a non-for-profit organisation that was set up in 1986 by a group of forward-thinking growers concerned about the shortage of skilled managers within the industry. Our current membership stands at over 55 businesses which continues to grow year on year. The collaboration of MDS and industry leading businesses has fast-tracked the career of over 500 graduates. 

What will a graduate be doing in the role?

Roles are varied and cover all aspects of the food and fresh produce supply chain, below are some examples of secondments:

• Commercial – A client/customer facing role, that requires multitasking and a high level of coordination. Developing effective business networks with internal and external stakeholders. Supporting the commercial performance, adhering to processes, handling of data with analysis. Previous secondment roles: Corporate Produce Assistant, Junior Commercial Manager, E-Commerce Growth Executive.

• Operations – Plan, coordinate and improve processes across a variety of business functions. High level of technical input, data gathering and reporting that drives growth with strategy support. Previous secondment roles: Operations Supervisor, Site Trainer, Operational Excellence Support.

• Procurement – Directly involved in the sourcing and purchasing of products and services. Sourcing suppliers, contract drafting, negotiation and managing suppliers through the whole procurement process. Previous secondment roles: Assistant Procurement Manager, Corporate Produce Assistant.

• Project / research / trials – Initiate projects, carry out planning by setting goals and objectives. Track work to be completed, set deadlines and delegate tasks. Implement any necessary changes throughout the process. Recording of data and analysis. Previous secondment roles: Junior Project Manager, Change Champion, Development Technologist.

• Farm – Organising and participating in the daily harvesting and analysis. Implement the monitoring of the UK agronomy/field practices, trials and data collection plan for existing crops and new varieties. Previous secondment roles: Deputy Harvest Manger, Planting Manager, Harvest Planner.

• Marketing – Coordination and contribution towards a marketing strategy/campaign. Marketing a product or service. Using a variety of communication platforms internal and external to the business. Previous secondment roles: Digital Marketing, Marketing Officer, Communications Specialist.

• Technical – Ensure quality of the product is the correct specification and quality for clients. Following strict food safety requirements and protocol. Monitor staff operations. Previous secondment roles: Quality Control, Fruit Technologist, Quality and Assurance Account Manager.

Trials Officer - Day in the life


Trainee - Day in the life