Skills conference aims to plug the employment gap

By Mike Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Drink manufacturers, National skills academy, Unemployment, Food and drink, Food and drink federation

BBC TV's The Apprentice Winner, Tim Campbell (left) congratulates Kraft Foods Calum Marnock on winning a FDF Community Partnership award. To book your free place at our Skills conference contact Rachel Cannon on 01293 610433 or email rachel.cannon@wrbm.com
BBC TV's The Apprentice Winner, Tim Campbell (left) congratulates Kraft Foods Calum Marnock on winning a FDF Community Partnership award. To book your free place at our Skills conference contact Rachel Cannon on 01293 610433 or email rachel.cannon@wrbm.com
Plugging the gaping skills gap in UK food and drink manufacturing is the subject of a free half-day conference at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham on Monday March 26.

The Skills for a changing world ​event will focus on how food and drink manufacturers can attract and retain the next generation of young talent.

Also topping the agenda will be presentations from the Food and Drink Federation on actions to raise the industry’s image and the National Skills Academy on new training schemes.

The UK Commission for Employment and Skills will profile the latest manufacturing apprenticeship schemes and the Institute of Food Science & Technology (IFST) will highlight a new transferable skills initiative.

About 137,000 new recruits will be needed to replace staff who will retire over the next five years, according to Improve, the skills council for food and drink manufacturers.

Also, recruits are likely to require a higher skills base than their predecessors to help food and drink manufacturers introduce more automated production practices to meet the threat from foreign competition.

The industry is already reporting difficulties in attracting qualified engineers.

Intended for HR directors and managers, the event will run alongside the Food and Drink Expo and Foodex shows.

Free places

To book your free place at this event organised by FoodManufacture.co.uk’s sister publication Food Manufacture ​and the IFST contact Rachel Cannon on 01293 610433 or email Rachel.Cannon@wrbm.com.

Meanwhile, as the manufacturing sector struggles to recruit a new generation of talent, UK unemployment rose by 118,000 in the three months to November 2011 to reach 2.69M, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The unemployment rate reached 8.4%; the highest since January 1996.

The number of young people looking for work hit a new record of 1.043M. The rate of unemployment for 16 to 24 year-olds reached 22.3%.

What they said about skills at our Businesses Leaders’ Summit

Peter Pickthall​, HR director R&R Ice Cream

“Between 65 to 70% of our workforce is migrant labour. It is essential for us with our bases in North Yorkshire and Bodmin. The UK workforce will not come to work for us because there are too many ​[welfare] benefits.

“Migrant labour is an excellent workforce which comes to work everyday.”

Dean McKenna​, director Mill Point Partnership

“Strong leaders, often the founder of the business, can stifle leadership below. The capability to devolve leadership​ [within the firm] is very important.”

Jon Poole​, ceo IFST

“There’s still a lot to be done in making people in colleges and schools aware of what opportunities are available in food and drink manufacturing.”

Click here​ to hear Jon Poole’s thoughts on how to plug the UK skills gap.

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