The Scottish food and drink sector is worth some £10bn, but the latest study by Improve, the skills council for the food and drink sector, was conducted in 2005 and found that one in four vacancies for food scientists and technologists were unfilled and hard to fill.
Flora McLean, director of the Scottish Food and Drink Federation, told FoodNavigator.com last year that one problem is unawareness of the variety of career possibilities. When they think about food and drink, they tend to think about production jobs only. There is relatively little awareness about hands-on food science jobs and some are surprised that there is a need for engineers in the food sector as engineering is generally more associated with the energy sector.
The new contest, which is being run by the Royal Highland Show, aims to open up greater awareness of different career paths. It is open to all 16-25 year olds living in Scotland, and entrants are asked to select and investigate a food or drink product of their choice, and highlight the processes and skills required to make it.
Entrants who pre-register have the opportunity to be put in touch with an industry mentor to guide them through the process. The closing date for entries is 30 April.
The winner or winners (groups of up to 4 people can enter) will receive £1000, and their ‘journey’ will be used as the basis for pathways at the show to guide visitors through the different steps they identified.
Sir Garth Morrison, president of this year’s show, said: “The need for an intelligent, educated, motivated and knowledgeable workforce is emerging as a pressing national priority.”
He said the initiative is now only an opportunity for young people, but also “for the food and drink and allied industries to shout about all of the career opportunities available and attract people who are going to help the industry achieve its ambitions to make Scotland known as a Land of Food and Drink.”
More information is available at this link