In March 2016, leading food and drink companies including PepsiCo UK, Mars UK, and McCain Foods, took part in the Big Bang UK Scientists and Engineers Fair, in a bid to encourage young people into manufacturing careers that require science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills.
‘Taste Success – A Future in Food’
The fair was an initiative of ‘Taste Success – A Future in Food’, a careers campaign designed by the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), to make parents, students, teachers, and career advisors aware of the range of highly skilled and well-paid job opportunities available in the food and drink sector. Apart from showcasing careers, the fair provided a space for graduates and apprentices to share their experience and the advantages of working in the sector.
Skills Demand in the Food and Drink Industry
The Food and drink sector is the UK’s largest manufacturing sector. Although it has experienced steady growth, an ageing workforce means that by 2022, a projected 109,000 new recruits will be needed to meet the growing demand and shortage of skills in areas like engineering.
This will also create opportunities in related industry areas like retail catering and the purchasing and resale of food machinery. Many students may be unaware, for instance, that the used food machinery for sale at Clarke Fussells, required skilled workers who could give an accurate stock valuation and use their experience of the industry to match vendors with an international market of those who want to buy food machinery.
More Apprenticeships to Encourage Interest in Food and Drink
In addition to a promise to increase the number of higher level apprenticeships available in the sector by 20 per cent by 2017, the FDF pledged in December 2015, to a further two per cent rise in the number of apprenticeships that were available in 2013/14.
Their efforts are supported by companies like Nestle who apart from being committed to National Apprenticeship Week, will recruit 65 apprentices this year, including 12 chartered manager degree apprentices across its seven factory sites and two head offices.
According to the FDF, apprenticeships are a great route into the food industry. They provide the managers, engineers, technicians and food scientists that the sector needs and give apprentices the opportunity to earn and learn while gaining relevant hands-on training.