The School Pilot scheme – launched today (May 14) – will result in major food and grocery companies visiting schools to offer employability skills training to 13 to 17-year-olds and inform teachers about opportunities available in the food industry.
Premier Foods boss Gavin Darby warned there was a significant group of unemployed youth who lack the skills to get on the first run of the employment ladder.
‘The first run of the ladder’
“It’s about rebuilding people’s confidence – a lot of people have been knocked back many times,” Darby told Radio 4’s Today programme. “It’s about getting there [to the interview] on time, how to present yourself, how to articulate your strengths and how to polish up your CV – basic things like that to get a foot on the first run of the ladder.”
Asked whether the scheme would lead only to a zero-hours contract on the minimum wage, Darby said the aim was to supply pre-employment skills. “It’s more fundamental than that – it’s the step before that,” said Darby. “People need to get into the work place – confidence builds and things happen. There’s a stubbornly large group of people we just need to get on the first run of the ladder.”
In the same interview, Darby said that market forces should be allowed to decide the success of pharmaceutical giant Pfizer's bid for AstraZeneca, without political interference.
There are 611,000 job vacancies in the UK waiting to be filled and a large potential workforce who need the right information to help them secure those jobs, he added.
‘Millions of people without work’
Joanne Denney-Finch, IGD chief executive, said: “Despite the UK’s unemployment rate beginning to show some signs of improvement this year, we still have millions of people without work.
“As the UK’s biggest employer, the food and grocery industry is committed to playing its part in tackling unemployment but more than that, our research shows we need to respond to appeals from our unemployed to gain valuable insight into the roles available in this industry and specific skills required to find jobs in this sector.”
Leading food and drink industry manufacturers and retailers taking part in Feeding Britain’s Future include: Bakkavor, Booker Group, Brakes, Britvic Soft Drinks, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Compass Group, Dairy Crest, General Mills UK, Greencore, Greggs Tulip, Unilever, Waitrose, Warburtons, Morrisons and many others.
More information about the scheme is available here.
For the latest roles in food and drink manufacturing, visit Foodmanjobs.