Back to basics for Food education and training

By Rick Pendrous

- Last updated on GMT

More needs to be done to promote food and drink careers advice in schools, claims Food Manufacture’s Rick Pendrous
More needs to be done to promote food and drink careers advice in schools, claims Food Manufacture’s Rick Pendrous

Related tags: Apprenticeship, Industry

Food and drink manufacturing in the UK is in crisis. Young people are being put off seeking careers in the sector because of a combination of lack of knowledge about what’s on offer and the poor press it receives.

A report from the Industry Apprentice Council (IAC), disclosed that only 22% of 1,200 apprentices surveyed reported having good careers advice at school. Many reported their teachers knew nothing about apprenticeships, while others were deterred from choosing apprenticeships in favour of going to university.

For food and drink, attacked for everything from being the source of the nation’s obesity epidemic to conning consumers through ‘shrinkflation’, the situation is even worse than other manufacturing and engineering sectors. Bad press hurts.

Improve careers advice in schools

In response to the apprentice report, IAC and Semta have called on government to improve careers advice in schools and take action to improve apprenticeships for the future. Industry must help too.

But the problem doesn’t only lie with manufacturing and engineering. According to a review commissioned by the Office for Strategic Coordination of Health Research, nutrition research in the UK is also facing a crisis.

This isn’t helped by researchers working with industry constantly under attack for taking funding from the food industry – even though they are attempting to make our diets healthier.

With huge skills shortfalls predicted for the sector – exacerbated by uncertainty over Brexit – much more needs to be done to attract bright young talent to the sector. And, as Campden BRI director general Professor Steven Walker says in the August edition of Food Manufacture​, we need to start in primary schools.

Related topics: People & Skills

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