IFST tackles skills gap with FoodStart project

By Michael Stones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Drink manufacturing Industry Jon poole

FoodStart aims to help attract a new generation into food and drink manufacturing by helping them find work experience placements
FoodStart aims to help attract a new generation into food and drink manufacturing by helping them find work experience placements
The Institute of Food Science & Technology (IFST) is planning a new online project called FoodStart to help plug the yawning skills gap in food and drink manufacturing. 

Jon Poole, IFST chief executive, told FoodManufacture.co.uk the initiative was a legacy project, forming part of the institute’s jubilee year. “This is a unique web-based facility which we will provide for food employers to post their work experience, graduate placements and internships free of charge,” ​Poole told FoodManufacture.co.uk. 

“The expectation is that students can search and apply for work experience through this unique system and so be attracted to see for themselves the exciting career opportunities which the sector provides.”

Ready-made springboard

Students using the website will be encouraged to log and track their individual experiences, building towards a specially-recognised portfolio of experience. The IFST hopes the project will offer a ready-made springboard into a career in the food sector.

Food and drink manufacturing needs to have a single point of focus, if it is to attract students who are also looking at roles in automotive, aerospace, telecommunications, said Poole. “FoodStart will provide that single point and so hopefully ensure that the food sector has an increased visibility among young people.”

The IFST is asking food and drink industry businesses to donate money to contribute to FoodStart. More information about the project is available here​.

170,300 new recruits by 2020

The food and drink manufacturing sector is predicted to need about 170,300 new recruits by 2020.

Watch Poole argue the case for a more unified approach to attracting new recruits in our Big Video Skills debate​, filmed at Foodex 2014 at the National Exhibition Centre, near Birmingham earlier this year.

Meanwhile, the Food Manufacture Group is celebrating the best of young British food and drink manufacturing talent with a new award – New Young Talent of the Year​.

Part of the Food Manufacturing Excellence Awards (FMEA)s – the Oscars of food and drink manufacturing – the new award will recognise the achievements of young men or women planning a future in the industry. More details about this award and other categories are available here​.

Entries opened on May 1 and will close on July 31. The winners will be revealed at a glittering awards evening at the Park Lane Hilton in London on November 20.

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