The government-appointed commissioners are tasked with encouraging businesses to invest in developing skills and employment opportunities.
The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) said Kendrick – who is also chair of FDF’s competitiveness steering group – will bring a deep understanding of the food and drink sector to her new role.
Angela Coleshill, FDF’s director of employment and skills said: “Fiona’s wealth of experience in the industry and leadership with FDF’s skills agenda means that she has a real insight into a range of collaborative industry initiatives, including the delivery of the UK's first food engineering degree with Sheffield Hallam University and our success in raising our ambition for apprenticeships in food and drink manufacturing.”
Kendrick’s close working relationship with the sector skills council Improve and the National Skills Academy meant she was well placed to provide leadership in ensuring the skills provision, added Coleshill.
“Skills are critical to our continued success and this crucial appointment demonstrates how serious industry and government are about meeting this challenge,” she said.
The five new commissioners (listed below), including Iqbal Wahhab, founder of Roast Restaurant, join a team of 25 commissioners, led by Sir Charlie Mayfield, chairman of the John Lewis Partnership.
Skills minister Matthew Hancock said the five new commissioners were leaders in their fields and had a broad knowledge of a variety of sectors. “They will encourage industry to support the skills to build a workforce for the modern economy,” said Hancock.
“With their experience and expertise they will help large, small and medium-sized enterprises respond to our industrial strategies.”
Minister for employment Mark Hoban added: “They cover a wide area of experience with their varied backgrounds, and I know they will use this to work closely with employers, advocating new opportunities and skills development in businesses.”
The need for skilled workers in the food and drink manufacturing sector continues to soar, with 170,300 vacancies expected between 2010 and 2020 across a variety of job roles.
In addition to championing industry-wide projects, such as the UK’s first food engineering degree with Sheffield Hallam University, Kendrick has led initiatives such as the Nestlé Academy Fast Start programme.
Today (September 4) Nestlé unveiled its partnership with Google to launch more than 50M Android KitKat bars to promote the internet giant's new mobile operating system, named after the iconic confectionery.
Meanwhile, Kendrick is battling five other food and drink industry leaders for the coveted title Personality of the Year, which recognises people who have shown strong leadership over the past year in the food and drink sector.
Other candidates shortlisted for the title – part of the Food Manufacturing Excellence Awards (FMEAs) – include: Richard Clothier, boss of Wyke Farms, James Lambert, chairman of Europe’s largest own-label ice cream manufacturer R&R Ice Cream, Mark Allen, chief executive of Dairy Crest, Simon Baldry md Coca-Cola Entreprises, and Ireland and John Stevenson, MP and chairman of the House of Commons All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Food and Drink Manufacturing.
New skills commissioners
- Fiona Kendrick, chairman and chief executive, Nestlé UK & Ireland
- Iqbal Wahhab, founder, Roast Restaurant
- Will Butler-Adams, md, the Brompton Bicycle Company
- Douglas McCormick, md, Rail, Atkins
- Barbara Spicer, chief executive, Salford City Council