The celebrity chef is throwing his weight behind FoodStart, an online system designed to help students get work placements with food and drink companies.
The free service, created by the Institute of Food Science and Technology (IFST) and announced in May, aims to address the serious skills shortage facing the industry.
By 2020, it’s predicted that the UK food and drink industry will need more than 170,000 employees, but attracting enough students to the food and drink sector is proving a challenge.
Employers will be able to advertise their work experience placements free of charge on the FoodStart site. Students can then browse and apply for the advertised positions, while building a portfolio of their achievements.
“I can’t recommend FoodStart enough – it’s a brilliant idea,” said Oliver. “We need people with all kinds of backgrounds and skills working in food, and whether you’re a genius or a hard grafter, I know first-hand that this industry has never been more dynamic. This generation and the next will make the biggest impact on the food industry we’ve ever seen.”
The FoodStart website has already attracted high profile backers, including Warburtons, Waitrose, Leatherhead Food Research and Campden BRI.
It aims to bring together UK work experience at all levels, from school and university-based programmes to graduate placements and internships, allowing organisations to showcase their opportunities and attract new talent.
“… As so much of the industry is focused on doing the right thing for farmers, land, the planet and, of course, consumers – it really is a wonderful time to be starting out,” said Oliver.
IFST ceo Jon Poole added: “Our sector relies on fresh talent to ensure that we have sufficient skills to meet future needs. However, attracting a sufficient number of students to the food and drink sector is an ongoing challenge.
“The FoodStart project is our solution – a one-stop website that will bring work experience options to those considering a career in food.”