MDS Leadership & Management Scheme - Nationwide
Location Nationwide
Starts ASAP
Deadline 27 Dec 2023

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 Leadership and Management scheme offers an exciting opportunity for people wishing to start a second career. Whatever your age or background, if you have completed several years in a role that gave you leadership or managerial experience, then we would be interested in talking to you.

The Leadership and Management scheme is one of three MDS programmes that equip people for a fruitful career in the fast-paced food industry. Hardworking, highly motivated individuals will relish the challenge of this two-year programme. Successful candidates become MDS associates, working towards a formal Level 5 qualification accredited by the Chartered Management Institute. This modular training prepares you for future leadership positions and is supported by mentoring to help you reach your potential.

Each MDS associate also undertakes a series of placements in member businesses, in roles that give real responsibility from the start. MDS members represent all aspects of the food, fresh produce, horticulture and agriculture supply chain, from growers to supermarkets. Your placements will each last for six months or a year and will cover a range of different functions, from marketing to operations, HR to business planning. You may be asked to complete a specific project for one business, whilst for another, you may find yourself running a packing plant.

As our members are based around the UK (and some overseas), you are highly likely to be asked to relocate for each placement. If your family circumstances make that difficult then we will endeavour to find local placements for you.

At the end of each programme, our members are invited to make offers of permanent roles to our associates, which usually results in every individual securing employment. MDS alumni now number over 500 and hold senior positions in many leading businesses. We keep in touch with our alumni through regular updates and networking opportunities.

What you will have

To be considered for MDS, you will need to demonstrate that you have relevant experience and transferrable skills. We do not expect associates to be educated to degree level, but we do look for people with the potential to succeed in a leadership role.

To apply, you must be prepared and able to relocate every six months. Each application is reviewed independently, and the offer of employment will be subject to appropriate right-to-work checks. A range of our Member companies are based in rural locations some Trainees may be required to travel, it is the Trainee’s responsibility to ensure they have the appropriate means to travel for work.

This is a fast-paced industry in which salaries are rising quickly. Associates are employed by MDS at £24,000 per annum, rising to £25,000 in year two. If you are looking for a second career, then you may just find it in the food industry.

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