Courses aimed at primary and secondary school students to teach practical, hands-on skills were needed to forge a career as a technician or engineer within the manufacturing industry – including jobs with food and drink manufacturers.
Adi ceo Alan Lusty said that while the industry had become more cutting edge and technology had evolved, the idea that being a engineer or technician could be an exciting career hadn't been passed down to children.
“Add to this the fact that it can be a struggle to find quality work experience – a quarter of UK firms have never considered recruiting an apprentice – and it’s easy to see why today’s young people aren’t being pushed in the right direction,” said Lusty.
‘Practical training from an early age’
“This is why businesses and schools must work together to offer practical training from an early age. Children are naturally curious, and if we harness this instinct early on we can instil an appetite for engineering in them that will influence their choices in later life.”
Adi offers courses for year 10 students – 14 to 15 year olds – to teach them practical, hands-on skills needed for a career in either mechanical or electrical engineering.
The courses include: welding, basic wiring, health and safety and reading technical drawings. Lusty added: “The first intake of 12 students was in September 2016 and, due to its success, we rolled it out to another Year 10 class last month. Our long-term goal is to establish schemes for children younger than this for maximum impact.
‘No short-term solution to the skills gap’
“There is no short-term solution to the skills gap or low levels of productivity, but if we can educate children and get them excited about a career in engineering, we will make considerable progress in growing the workforce.” Up to 40,000 of the food and drink industry’s ageing workforce are expected to retire in the next 10 years, according to a report by business consultancy Grant Thornton. It forecast that 140,000 new workers would be required by 2024 to fill the looming skills gap.
Meanwhile, food production vacancies are among the most difficult roles to fill in the food and drink industry, claimed grocery think-tank IGD. The think-tank’s chief executive urged youngsters to explore future careers in the food and drink manufacturing sector.