The UK’s Food and Drink Federation has called on food companies to offer student placements and guest lecturers to support a new accredited engineering Master’s degree dedicated to food and drink manufacturing.
The MEng degree, dubbed Graduate Excellence , is being developed through a partnership with the FDF, the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink, and Sheffield Hallam University, where the programme will be based.
Skills Academy CEO Justine Fosh said in a statement: “The shortage of engineers has caused intense competition between industries and is particularly important to food and drink businesses where engineering skills relevant to the sector are vital to drive growth and innovation in increasingly hi-tech automated production environments. The new degree puts the industry in a strong position to draw from graduates specifically trained in its workings.”
She said that the degree aimed to ensure food industry engineering held the same standing as other engineering disciplines, such as aerospace or automotive engineering.
FDF director general Melanie Leech said the degree was a step toward the government’s goal of growing the food and drink manufacturing sector in the UK by 20% by 2020.
A free launch event for the programme is due to be held in Sheffield on Thursday, February 7 and is intended to give food businesses more information about the degree and how they can get involved.
Some of the companies that have already offered placements or other support include ABF, apetito, Arla Foods, Burton's Biscuit Company, Cargill, Dalehead Foods, General Mills, Mars, McCains Foods, Mondelez, Nestlé, Pork Farms, Premier Foods, United Biscuits, Warburtons and the William Jackson Food Group.
Head of Engineering and Mathematics at Sheffield Hallam University Dr Martin Howarth said: “This project builds on our strong track record of providing excellent engineering education in partnership with leading industrial employers.”
The first influx of students for the MEng in food engineering is expected in September 2014.