Major retailer supports new graduate to study MSc through the Agrifood Training Partnership

Cerys Jenkins is part of an agriculture team with responsibility for a supermarket’s supply of pork. At just 26, she has a demanding and technically challenging role that requires a breadth of practical and theoretical knowledge.

Cerys explains, “I work with the pig farmers who supply us to better understand the pressures they face and help them to understand the standards we require. This means monitoring the performance of each supplier and working with our buyers to ensure we secure the best value and quality product for the consumer at a competitive price”.

Cerys graduated from the University of Nottingham in June 2014 and was recruited to a graduate scheme just three months later. “When I graduated, I couldn’t have imagined going back into education. I enjoyed my time at university, but I was ready to move on and begin my career. Securing the role was fantastic but it was clear from the outset that I would need to continue my education to grow into the role”.

Cerys was offered the chance to study whilst developing her career. She was encouraged to find modules that would contribute to an MSc in ‘Agrifood’ on the understanding that this would complement her work. “I wanted to study topics that related to my role and that would help me in my daily tasks. It was great to find the relevant modules I needed in one place and even better that each one helped me achieve an MSc”. Cerys found the modules she wanted through AFTP and studied from November 2014 until April 2019 to achieve her MSc.

“I could earn money and develop both academically and professionally at the same time, and the flexibility was bang on. I didn’t want to go back to university to study like I did when I was an undergraduate. I wanted to learn about specific topics that complemented my new role, and AFTP offered all the modules I needed. It was a great advantage to have the flexibility to learn at my own pace so I could balance my job and my MSc.”

Cerys studied modules such as ‘Sustainable Supply Chains: Production to Processing’ and ‘Meat Science and Meat Quality’ to expand her knowledge of the sector. “I was able to select subjects that suited where I was in my career. I was applying my knowledge in real time which made it all the more relevant and useful.” Cerys hand-picked the modules she knew would fit the demands of her role. Her choices benefited her employer and gave her greater confidence to communicate about technically demanding issues.

As part of her role, Cerys organises steering groups to discuss topical issues with pig farmers. The meetings help to better understand the pressures pig farmers face and work with them to bring the best finished carcass to market for the end customer.  Her work is diverse, interesting and she is in a position of great influence. Having completed her MSc and captured the value of learning alongside employment Cerys concludes, “If I ever wanted to learn more, AFTP is definitely the first place I would look.”


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