Conservative conference: FDF urges A-level rethink

By Alice Foster contact

- Last updated on GMT

Environment secretary pledged to create a “great food nation”
Environment secretary pledged to create a “great food nation”

Related tags: Conservative party

The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has urged environment secretary Liz Truss to rethink government plans to ditch the food technology A-level.

Truss pledged to “unleash” ​a new generation of food pioneers and inspire young people to embark on careers in the food industry during the Conservative party conference this week.

In response to her speech, FDF director general Ian Wright welcomed the government​s ambition to create a “great food nation” ​but said the decision to scrap the food technology A level should be reconsidered.

Call from FDF

“So we'd ask the secretary of state to look again at the department for education’s proposal to remove the food technology A-level from the syllabus.

  • Ian Wright, director general at the Food and Drink Federation  

‘Looming skills gap’

“Government’s 25 year food and farming plan aims to address the sector’s looming skills gap. Nothing could be more important,”​ Wright said.

“So we'd ask the secretary of state to look again at the department for education’s proposal to remove the food technology A-level from the syllabus.

“We can be the great food and drink nation - if all the levers of government are used in that endeavour.”

In her speech at the Conservative party conference this week, Truss said the new “rigorous” ​national curriculum would teach children where food comes from.  

“A greater understanding of food and the environment will not only be life-enhancing but for many it will provide a secure job, a secure future,” ​Truss told the conference. 

‘Innovative, high-tech industry’

“The stereotypes of food and farming are outdated. This is an innovative, high-tech industry. 

“My ambition is for food and farming to be a top destination for high-flying graduates, as prestigious as medicine and as cutting-edge as Tech City.”​ 

Truss said that the government was working with business to treble the number of apprentices in food and farming over the next five years. 

Food industry bosses have slammed the government's plans to ditch technology A-level and claimed it could be detrimental to the sector's future.

A campaign has been launched to save the A-level and more than 5,000 supporters have signed its Save Food Tech petition.

But the Department for Education (DfE) argues that universities value the sciences as subjects needed to get onto food nutrition and science courses.

“For those students wanting to progress to a career in food, there are career-­specific vocational qualifications, for example in confectionery/butchery,”​ the DfE said.

Watch a video of Truss's speech below.

Five key quotes from speech

  1. Food is our largest manufacturing sector - it’s bigger than cars and aerospace put together. It employs one in 8 people.
  2. I believe it can be even better, delivering more jobs and more opportunity. I believe that we can grow more, we can sell more and we can buy more British food.
  3. I want to unleash a new generation of pioneers in the countryside, in food and the environment.
  4. Supermarkets are responding to the growing demand for British food.
  5. Britain is uniquely placed with its vivid history and its global outlook to be a Great Food Nation.

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