Low wages to blame for food and drink skills gap

By Laurence Gibbons contact

- Last updated on GMT

Low wages are preventing people considering careers in the food and drink industry
Low wages are preventing people considering careers in the food and drink industry

Related tags: Education, Employment

Low wages are hurting the food and drink industry by deterring new recruits and creating the skills gap, warns new research from the University of Warwick.

The lack of workers with skills in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) is not a result of problems with the British education system but due to employers being unwilling to offer high wages to suitably skilled workers, the research based on US data found.

Dr Thijs van Rens, associate professor in the University of Warwick’s department of economics and lead researcher, said the market wages did not reflect the demand for different types of skills.

‘Unwilling to raise wages’

“Businesses complain about the lack of workers with STEM skills but are unwilling to raise wages for these workers – or reduce wages for workers with skills that are less in demand.”

He said simply educating more skilled employees or a reformed education system was not the answer to the lack of skilled workers. As long as wages did not reward certain skills, people would be reluctant to acquire them, he added.

More education won't help

“While firms complain about a shortage of qualified physicists and engineers on the labour market, a very large number of graduates in these fields work in the financial sector, where they only use their STEM skills to a very limited degree,”​ he claimed.

“Encouraging universities to educate more physicists and engineers will not make any difference if these additional STEM graduates look for jobs in investment banks.”

Do you agree with van Rens that low wages is the reason for the skills gap? Answer our poll about food industry wages below.

Meanwhile, for the latest jobs in food and drink manufacturing visit FoodManJobs.


Does you your current remuneration package reflect the skills you own?

  • Yes, I receive a fair and healthy wage in line with my skillset

  • No, I work like a dog and get paid like one too

  • Maybe, I’m unsure if my skills warrant a bigger bank balance


Related topics: People, Skills Gap

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Partially true...

Posted by Mike Davies,

Whilst I agree that an insufficient pay gap is driving people away from these kinds of roles, it is only part of the full picture. Talented and skilled people seek roles where they will be respected, have a more organised and less reactive work load than in engineering. Often these people are working to the demands of those who cannot see the bigger picture when it comes to asset care and reliability leading to a stressful, reactive working environment where people with STEM skills have less say than those without. This does little to help attract talented people to those roles

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no I do not agree

Posted by frank cole,

One of the biggest draw backs to filling jobs is recruitment agencies is because half the time people phone you and can not read the c v in front of them I am an engineering manager with many years in food working for blue chip companies

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Yes Fully agree

Posted by John,

I fully agree with the findings of this study. Wages in industry, Food and others, do not reflect the qualification if you have a science degree. Students naturally move towards more rewarding sectors.

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