The report, released by the Food and Drink Sector Council (FDSC), highlighted the growing skills shortage at all levels and at every link in the food chain, from farm to fork.
Problems with the availability of management and leadership skills, coupled with an anticipated labor shortage, due in part to the end of free movement with the EU, were expected to threaten future productivity growth in the supply chain.
However, the report found that companies were looking to fill positions at all skill levels in a bid to reverse the deficit and change the misconception that working in the food and beverage sector was low paid and low skilled.
By observing the collected evidence, the FDSC identified the first recommendations to improve the skills of employees and attract future talent.
Learning, accessibility and professionalization
This included the increased use of apprenticeships and the provision of T-level internships (equivalent to three A-levels), improving the accessibility and quality of training provision for food businesses and beverages, and the professionalization of leadership and management skills within the sector to ensure that managers were prepared for a changing workplace.
Commenting on the report, Economics of Innovation and Entrepreneurship reader at Sheffield Hallam, Dr Andrew Johnston, said: “In producing this report, we shed light on the challenges facing the food and drink sector so that we can work with government and employers to strengthen an industry that employs over four million people across the Kingdom. UK and contributes £121 billion to the national budget. gross value added.
Dame Fiona Kendrick, FDSC member and chair of the Workforce and Skills Group, agreed that access to skills was a growing problem in the sector and that the situation was going to become more difficult for the majority of companies.
“We will see a tighter labor market due to an aging population coupled with lower net migration,”she added. “So now is the time to act. I ask you to join us in this movement and ensure that UK food and drink businesses lead the way in providing secure, well-paying jobs at all skill levels across the UK.
FDF chief executive Ian Wright said ensuring the UK food and drink industry had access to a pool of highly skilled, well-paid and locally grown talent was essential for the industry to retain its reputation as a world leader and would guarantee its long term. potential.
The food chain comes together
“This is the first time the food chain has come together to produce such an ambitious and forward-looking report with a robust set of recommendations for action,”says Wright.
“This report provides an evidence base and an approach to build on, but its success can only be guaranteed if the FDSC and the wider food and beverage supply chain are able to fully engage with government. .”
The report follows the inauguration of Sheffield Hallam’s National Center of Excellence in Food Engineering (pictured), a new multi-million pound facility designed to improve current food engineering processes, fill the sector’s skills gap and boost the competitiveness of the country’s largest manufacturing sector. .
The facility featured a range of equipment and technology allowing students and researchers to operate in a real factory environment and offered manufacturers the opportunity to use the site to develop new products and conduct research on processes.
At the same time, London South Bank University has launched a consultation on new apprenticeship standards for the baking industry.