New forum focuses on the talent pipeline

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Gardner: ‘Identifying other routes into the sector ... will also be important’
Gardner: ‘Identifying other routes into the sector ... will also be important’
The Institute of Food Science & Technology’s (IFST’s) operations director Andrew Gardner discusses the organisation’s plans to help tackle the food and drink sector’s work requirements.

The IFST is this month launching the first of its annual education and careers forums.

In light of concerns about the food sector’s unmet workforce requirements, technological, political and social pressures (including Brexit), skills shortages, and changes to education and training context, the IFST is bringing together representatives from across the sector – education providers, employers and sector bodies – to identify what practical steps the sector can take to strengthen the food sector talent pipeline.

Looking at a new school-level development, the forum will explore the likely impact of the new T levels – the A level alternatives that from 2020 will offer 16- to 18-year-olds two-year technical programmes designed with industry skills in mind.

‘Competences for food graduate careers’

At university level, the forum will consider the University of Nottingham’s work to define the competences for food graduate careers and how these may further be deployed by education providers and sector employers.

For non-traditional degree routes, the forum will look at how successful apprenticeships have been in terms of meeting sector workforce needs, and what impact the launch of the degree apprenticeship has had.

For a wider strategic perspective, it will turn to the Food and Drink Sector Council, which has a Skills Consultative Group, itself looking at apprenticeship provision, food sector careers, and workforce development.

‘Routes into the sector’

Career paths are seldom straight lines and while the forum focuses on some straightforward paths into food science and technology, identifying other routes into the sector – eg, those whom by accident or a piqued interest move sideways from other disciplines or sectors – will also be important.

Please email me​ to learn more about the forum, which takes place in London next week (20 November).

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