“Anything which increases the profile of young people in the industry is a fantastic thing to be doing and will help address the immense challenge of plugging the industry’s skills gap,” said Wilkinson, who is also chair of the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink.
The new award will help food and drink manufacturing employers compete in the battle to attract young talent against their competitors in the aerospace and automotive industries, which are sometimes perceived to be more alluring, he said.
‘Don’t think the message gets through’
“People don’t realise that if you get a job in food and drink manufacturing, it can be anything from a low-skilled job in a factory to advanced automation. I don’t think that message about jobs in the industry gets through. We have jobs in the industry that can appeal to everyone’s skills base but it’s not as sexy as the images you see on the TV about the manufacturing of cars, aerospace and other high tech industries. It’s not as high tech but once you get underneath food manufacturing, it’s amazing.”
The new award will be added to other categories, scrutinised by the independent panel of expert judges led by Wilkinson, who is also the chair of confectioner Thorntons.
Other categories are: Food Manufacturing Company of the Year; Ambient Manufacturing Company of the Year; Bakery Manufacturing Company of the Year; Chilled & Fresh Food Manufacturing Company of the Year; Dairy Manufacturing Company of the Year; Frozen Foods Manufacturing Company of the Year; Meat, Poultry & Seafood Manufacturing Company of the Year; Environmental Initiative of the Year; Training Programme of the Year; Judges’ Star Performer; Most Innovative Small Company of the Year; and Personality of the Year. Awards will also be made for Best New Use of Food Ingredients and Supply Chain Initiative of the Year.
Entries open on Thursday May 1 and close on July 31. The winners will be revealed at a glittering awards evening at the Park Lane Hilton in London on November 20.
For more details call Rebecca George on 01293 610422 or email firstname.lastname@example.org