The Eden Project, which was set up by the dairy industry in 2007 to stem the crippling skills shortage in the sector, has been opened to the bakery, drinks, confectionery, as well as other sectors, said Justine Fosh, chief executive of the National Skills Academy.
“We’re working on getting a range of industries involved in the Eden Project,” she told delegates at a recent Dairy UK conference in London last week (June 24).
“We’ve got a good group of food scientists established. We’re working with the confectionery industry, the brewing industry and we will be meeting with the meat and poultry industry soon,” she added.
Bridge the skills gap
The Eden Project was an outstanding example of how an industry could come together and bridge the skills gap, Fosh claimed.
Eden Project partners
- Arla Foods
- Cotteswold Dairy
- Dairy Crest
- First Milk
- Milk Link
- Müller Dairy
- Robert Wiseman
“When I speak to other industries, they always ask how the dairy industry managed to come up with a workable solution to their skills shortage.”
It was imperative the food industry worked together on a long-term solution to the skills gap it was facing, she added.
The government had plans to cut funding to training schemes that it didn’t consider “core” and empower industry to implement their own training schemes, Fosh claimed.
Despite it being the largest manufacturing sector in the UK and employing 400,000 people, the food industry wasn’t considered to be one of those core sectors, she said.
£26.4bn to the UK’s economy
“The food and drink industry brings in a total of £26.4bn to the UK’s economy. It is the biggest manufacturing sector and it will need to grow by another 170,300 people between 2010 and 2020.”
Meanwhile, the National Skills Academy had created several new training schemes, including a new apprenticeship standard for bakery.
“This was developed to answer the question: ‘what core skills do you need to be in bakery?’,” Fosh said.
“It’s been built to define the core skills that a baker would need before they went into either craft or plant bakery.”
Other programmes included a food technology standard and the first new product development standard, she added.