As the ageing workforce retires and the sector continues to expand, thousands of jobs are predicted to become available over the next five years. The sector is valued at £12.bn and growing.
To support the industry, The Food and Drink Skills Investment Plan (FDSIP) aims to raise its attractiveness to new entrants, support innovation, deliver leadership and management excellence and support the development of skills for growth in the workplace.
Launching the initiative on June 21, rural affairs secretary Richard Lochhead said: “Food and drink is a Scottish success story at a time when other industries are struggling due to tough economic conditions.
“The FDSIP will help the industry flourish, encouraging closer working between the public and private sector, as well as highlighting the fantastic career opportunities on offer to young people across Scotland.”
Modern Apprenticeships (MAs) are at the heart of the scheme, which was developed by Skills Development Scotland, Scotland Food & Drink, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands & Islands Enterprise and skills organisations Lantra and Improve.
“Four years ago there were fewer than 100 food and drink MAs and now there are more than 1,000,” said Lochhead. “This represents a huge vote of confidence by the industry in a process that allows them to ‘grow their own’ skilled people to meet the needs of their business.”
Minister for youth employment, Angela Constance, said: “This work will train and develop the newly skilled workforce needed to compete in the global market.”
Key to the plan is an online information service about the required skills and the jobs available at www.myworldofwork.co.uk/the-food-and-drink-industry .
The plan includes:
- A feasibility study into developing a MA Share Scheme for small, primary food producers,
- New technical MA frameworks
- An industry pledge on modern apprenticeships and work placements
- A database of work experience opportunities
- New undergraduate sandwich course in food engineering/graduate internships.
The Scotland Food and Drink Skills Academy and the Lantra Land-based Business Centre will identify about 500 companies with good growth potential and offer them training support.
Meanwhile, the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) said the selection of a university partner to develop a new engineering degree course to equip graduates with the technical skills will be finalised today (June 26).
Paul Grimwood, chief executive of Nestlé UK and FDF deputy president, said that of the 137,000 new employees food manufacturing would need to attract before 2017, “30% would require a university level skill set”.