Young stars explain how to attract others

By Nicholas Robinson

- Last updated on GMT

Must try harder: Schools should provide better information about food industry careers
Must try harder: Schools should provide better information about food industry careers

Related tags Young people Food industry Industry Food

Schools must play a bigger role in attracting young people to the food and drink manufacturing sector, according to the UK’s top young industry talent.

Children in schools will never know how exciting and diverse a career in the food and drink sector could be, unless more is done to show them, said Jodie Adcock, the winner of the Young Talent of the Year Award​, which was presented for the first time at this year’s Food Manufacturing Excellence awards.

“I always thought the food industry would be interesting, but not this interesting and I only found out when I started working in it,”​ said Adcock, who is a line leader at Thorntons’ chocolate factory in Derbyshire.

Do more

Colleges should also do more work with students to “home in on specific careers”​ in the food industry, said Alice Marks, who was a finalist for the award and works in new product development at Northern Ireland’s Willowbrook Foods. “In my experience, careers were talked about after school, but nothing specific,”​ she added.

Many young people didn’t realise that there were hundreds of different roles available to them within the sector, said Jessica Lowe, a senior improvement manager for Premier Foods’s Hovis brand.

“There are lots of directions to take you can be an accountant, food scientist or food engineer there’s lots to choose from,”​ said Lowe, who was another of the six finalists up for the award this year.

It was also difficult to get food industry-specific qualifications at university level, claimed Ben Bowman, a process engineer at the steam infusion and process firm the OAL Group. “It would be interesting to see more modules within mechanical and chemical engineering that look specifically at the food industry,”​ he said.

Food firms

Although more emphasis on the industry was needed during education, food firms also had to ensure they were offering young people a good opportunity from the start, urged The Fresh Olive Company’s Amy Watson.

Watson, who was promoted to assistant operations manager at the company last September, found it difficult to get into the food industry. “This company was the place where I was given that opportunity while I was studying at college,”​ she said.

Allowing young people to learn from their mistakes once in work was vital, claimed another finalist, Windyridge Cheese’s sales director Matthew Glynn. “The biggest thing is to give young people the opportunity to make mistakes to mould themselves and their career.”

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