AFS: We need a new approach to lifelong skills learning

By Rick Pendrous

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Sector skills councils, Drink sector, Sisters food group, Food and drink

Sector skills councils need to work more closely together to provide the cross-industry skills essential to the future of the nation, according to the chairman of Assured Food Standards.

In his 2010 Institute of Food Science and Technology lecture, David Gregory, formerly director of technology with Marks & Spencer (M&S), argued that a new approach to lifelong skills learning was critical for the UK's food and drink sector to face future challenges.

"I am concerned that these sector-specific bodies are too fragmented to deal with the scale of the challenges we face today," ​said Gregory. He said the six sector skills councils that had some relevance to the food and drink sector: "must coordinate their efforts to save costs in the future and enable skills transfer across the industry".

Gregory, who is also a director of Boparan Holdings, which trades in the UK as 2 Sisters Food Group, argued that the industry and individuals within it also had crucial roles to play.

"We need easy access to modular training packages people can work on in their own time," ​said Gregory. "We do need to move away from this idea that the only way to impart knowledge and skills training is by sending people on very expensive courses."

He cited the new modular food courses and graduate programme being offered by the University of Nottingham as an example of the sort of training necessary to meet the changing needs of industry. "We need to be early adopters of new skills and knowledge, which should enable us to speak with authority and to be able to influence the debate."

As an example of this approach, M&S own-label supplier Northern Foods has recruited five scientists to support its food science and technology agenda.

Related topics: People & Skills

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