Food manufacturers unite to tackle youth unemployment

By Lorraine Mullaney

- Last updated on GMT

Mars is taking part in the initiative
Mars is taking part in the initiative

Related tags Young people Employment Industry

The food industry has pledged to offer training to 12,000 young unemployed people.

The pledge comes from more than 100 firms – including Mars, Bakkavör, Unilever and 2 Sisters – that are taking part in the IGD initiative Feeding Britain’s Future (FBF).

FBF encourages sectors of the food and drink industry to work together to provide pre-employment training to unemployed 16- to 24-year-olds during Skills for Work Month in September.

Speaking at a parliamentary reception in Westminster yesterday (July 9), the minister for business and education, Matt Hancock, applauded the work of the IGD grocery think tank in bringing the industry together. He called for more employers to join the industry drive.

Hancock said: “This campaign offers a great opportunity for young people who want to work in food but need help to get on the first rung of the ladder.

‘Knowledge and inspiration’

“It is fantastic that so many employers in the food industry are taking part. I would encourage even more businesses ​– across all sectors ​– to offer young people a chance with our new Traineeships programme, which is starting from August. Working with employers, we can help young people to bridge any skills gaps and give them the knowledge and inspiration to achieve their career goals.” 

Also speaking at the event, Joanne Denney-Finch, chief executive of IGD, highlighted the opportunities the industry could offer young people “from shop floor to top floor”​.

She said: “The food and grocery industry is Britain’s largest private sector employer, accounting for one in seven of all jobs, employing 3.7M people. It is an industry in which it’s possible to run your own successful business or start from the bottom and get to the very top – even with very few qualifications.

Britain’s largest private sector employer

“For the month of September we want as many businesses as possible of all sizes to offer pre-employment training. This campaign is about the whole industry coming together – across the supply chain and in every corner of the UK.

“Even if you can just provide one session lasting a couple of hours and a few hints and tips on interviews, or a CV workshop – it all counts.”

Fiona Dawson, president of Mars Chocolate UK, which is participating in the scheme, said it made sense for manufacturers to take part and engage with their local communities.

She told “We get disheartened by the lack of confidence in socially disadvantaged areas. Through FBF we’ve been working with the broadest social groupings. It’s less about whether they come to work with our companies, it’s about giving.

Skills for Work Month in September

During Skills for Work Month in September, farming, manufacturing, retail, wholesale and foodservice – and other companies related to the food and grocery industry – will share their advice and experience and showcase the wide range of careers in the sector.

After the IGD’s week-long pilot of the scheme in 2012, 98% of the young participants said they were more likely to consider a career in the sector and feel more confident about applying for jobs. Of those surveyed, 99% rated the training as good or excellent.

More than 85% of the employers that delivered the training said they got a great sense of satisfaction from helping others, according to IGD. It also gave them a chance to spot future talent as 14% of participating employers offered job interviews to the young people they met, and 18% offered work experience opportunities.

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