Schools must work with industry to address skills gaps: IGD

By Nathan Gray

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Employment

The majority of careers advisors working in UK schools and universities do not understand unique demands of the food industry, and must work more closely with industry professionals, according IGD.

SchoolFood and grocery analysts IGD said potential employers in the food industry would invest more in developing young people if the education sector was better aligned to business interests, after a survey of industry HR professionals revealed that 87 per cent would work more with universities and schools if careers advisors had a better understanding of the industry and business needs.

The findings, presented at the IGD Skills and Employability Summit, also raised questions over how the UK can tackle skills shortages within the industry if communication between academia and industry is not working efficiently.

“Our industry provides one in seven of all jobs in the UK, more than any other sector – and there’s huge potential for that number to grow. Not only is it important that we continue to train and develop those currently working in the industry, but we also need to enthuse and excite the next generation about working in food,”​ said Joanne Denney-Finch, chief executive, IGD.


The survey showed businesses are willing to offer more training and development, with the majority pledging to increase their budget in this area.

The survey also revealed that 83 per cent of food industry HR professionals believed that reducing paperwork and other ‘red tape’ would help them to develop more apprenticeship schemes, whilst more than half said the same of work experience programmes which may help to increase students interest in the industry.

“Our industry is all-embracing…Wherever you start you have the opportunity to rise to the top. Careers advisers need to appreciate that, and we in the industry need to help them understand the range of opportunities for young people to embark on fantastic careers,”​ added Denney-Finch.


The UK’s Food Minister, Jim Paice, added that the industry, which employs approximately 3.7 million people, “is hugely important to growth.”

“We know that there is a big skills gap right across the food chain. The industry must attract more well qualified and ambitious candidates if it is to continue to grow and innovate,”​ said Paice.

Mr Paice also announced a new programme which will bring 50,000 apprenticeship opportunities in the food industry. The programme is aimed to get food businesses to run more apprenticeships and change the way young people to think about working in the food industry.

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