UK food industry campaign to ward off people shortage

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Industry Fdf

The UK needs to attract 137,000 new recruits by 2017 to replace retirees and support growth, says the Food and Drink Federation, a third of whom will be for managerial roles and operational occupations.

The industry association plans to launch a major recruitment drive later this year, which will aim to reposition the food sector as a ‘career of first choice’ and repair the poor image it has amongst many job seekers.

Food jobs have typically been seen as poorly paid and with low prospects, but that is due to the misconception that all roles are in production. In fact, the spectrum of jobs includes scientists, engineers, food technologists and technicians, marketers and more.

The industry campaign, details of which are already online​, will gather momentum throughout the year. This month the FDF has published a booklet called Busting the Myths (available here​), which shows the scope of opportunities on offer.

A spokesperson told that a ‘soft’ launch for the campaign will take place in March, with a formal in the summer.

This week a “warm up event”​ took place in the form of a breakfast meeting for the All Party Parliamentary Food and Drink Manufacturing Group (APPG). This included a presentation from deputy director of Defra Roy Norton about what the government is doing to support manufacturing; and a presentation from Bob Spooner, group operations director at Premier Foods, to give the industry perspective on the problem.

APPG chair John Stevenson, MP, said: “Like many other manufacturing sectors, the food and drink industry suffers from a poor image against other career choices and as a member of the All-Party Parliamentary Food and Drink Manufacturing Group (APPG), I fully support the work FDF is undertaking to address this and to highlight to stakeholders, including business, government and the media, the positive contribution that the food and drink industry makes to society.”

He urged MPs to continue these discussions and take action in their constituencies, as well as in Parliament. “Food and drink is the largest manufacturing sector in the UK and its' importance to the overall economy should not be underestimated,”​ he said.

Interactive careers map

The FDF will be producing more materials this year besides the Busting the Myths booklet – both online and in hard copy – and is also developing an Interactive Careers Map that will match qualifications with jobs.

The association will work with universities and education providers to work out a match between industry requirements and the courses they are offering, and sponsorship of some events and conferences is planned.

A video on careers choices in food, produced by the Scottish FDF last year, will also be incorporated into the campaign.

The spokesperson said that the main target group is youngsters aged 13 to 19 years. The aim is to interest them in the industry before they make their options choices for GCSE at the age of 14, so that they consider science subjects.

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