Industry must gear up for the skills challenges of the future

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Greenhouse gas, Management

The industry must develop skills including scientific and technical, analytical and leadership competencies to address future challenges, according to Joanne Denney-Finch, chief executive of grocery think tank IGD.

Speaking at The Food & Grocery Industry Skills and Employment Summit 2010 organised by the IGD, Denney-Finch said: "This will be a pivotal decade, placing many new demands on our skills and we need to be gearing up now."

She said the food industry had to develop its communication skills to help consumers make sustainable choices. "The foundation of any partnership is trust that comes from empathy. A company usually makes the best impression when its people speak openly, transparently and with a personal touch."

Keeping up to speed with technological advances was vital. "This will be a dazzling decade for science, but what really counts is how quickly and effectively our people can apply the advances."

Companies also needed to sharpen their analytical capabilities in the drive for lean and sustainable supply chains, said Denney-Finch. These would be applied to areas such as reducing waste, greenhouse gas emissions and water use.

Teambuilding was crucial to build teams throughout the supply chain that could co-operate with each other to implement change. And leadership and change management would be needed to cope with the necessary changes in approach and structure. "Rapid change needs fast decisions, with empowered people at the frontline," said Denney-Finch.

Finally, empowerment and customer service would also be important disciplines to cultivate to enable retailers to promote the industry's efforts to shoppers.

Denney-Finch contrasted her skills priorities with those espoused by the industry in an IGD survey. Leadership came top, followed by change management and process improvement. She questioned the rank of technical skills as ninth out of a list of 10, saying: "that low score could make a good debating point later".

Related topics: People & Skills

Related news