Be Part of the Youth Revolution, Help to shape the future of food with Generation Next
It’s an exciting time to be involved in the UK food and drink industry. Export sales have grown to record levels for the past five consecutive years. Turnover this year grew by five per cent year-on-year. And job opportunities remain abundant, with an estimated 137,000 vacancies expected in food and drink manufacturing by 2017.
And with demand for skilled, professional workers on the rise, no wonder more and more young people are looking to food and drink to find secure, rewarding and exciting careers.
Improve, the food and drink sector skills council, recently announced that it had secured government funding to develop a brand new training initiative aimed at giving more young people the kick-start they need to find work in food and drink manufacturing.
Route to success
The Food and Drink Sector Routeway Training Programme will offer 18 to 24-year-olds looking for employment the chance to learn specialist skills needed to work in the industry and gain vital experience in the workplace.
And to make sure the programme focuses on delivering skills which bring real benefits to business, Improve is asking employers to get involved in shaping it.
Justine Fosh, director of skills solutions for Improve and the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink Manufacturing, said the Sector Routeway was a unique opportunity for employers to have their say on how young people could best be prepared for a career in food and drink.
“The industry needs young people, and young people need jobs. A third of the food and drink manufacturing workforce is due to retire in the next 20 years, and they need replacing.
“We have been able to demonstrate to the government that opportunities exist in food and drink and that we have the capacity to train and develop young people looking for work and provide them with rewarding careers.
“To get the most out of this for the industry, we want to ensure that the programme delivers the right skills in the right ways so we end up with bright, motivated, switched-on people who will make a difference to the business they work for.
“That is why we are inviting employers from all sectors of the industry and from all sizes of business to join a steering group to lead the development of this programme and help ensure it has real value.”
One person who knows all about starting a career in food and drink at a young age is Kris Woods, a 28-year-old development chef at Authentic Foods in Manchester.
Having left school at 15 to train as a chef, Kris spent eight years in the hospitality and catering industry before making the switch into food manufacturing and processing five years ago, taking a job with Kerry Foods before joining Authentic Foods in 2006.
“It’s a fantastic industry to work in and there are lots of different career paths,” he said. “There are plenty of good prospects and it’s very rewarding work. The Authentic Food Company supplies frozen meals and snacks to a wide range of customers covering retail supermarkets, hotels, restaurants and pubs, so thousands of people are eating the dishes I help to create, and it’s great to see my food on supermarket shelves.”
Justine said matching the enthusiasm and energy of young people with the variety of career options on offer in food and drink manufacturing was at the heart of the Sector Routeway.
“We want to go further than just focusing on generic employability skills,” she said. “We want the Sector Routeway to show young people the wealth of options available in food and drink, help them make informed career choices, and start to teach them the specialist skills companies in all sectors need.
“It is about effectively matching supply with demand. We want to offer young people clear paths into fulfilling and successful careers, and we want to give employers easy access to motivated, capable and loyal recruits.”
“The Authentic Food Company supplies frozen meals and snacks to a wide range of customers covering retail supermarkets, hotels, restaurants and pubs, so thousands of people are eating the dishes I help to create, and it’s great to see my food on supermarket shelves.”
Development Chef, Authentic Foods, Manchester