A rather negative public perception of the food and drink industry means that some work needs to be done to improve it. The types of jobs available within food are complex, interesting, difficult and rewarding, but it isn’t often viewed as a particularly desirable category in which to work.
I doubt that many high-fliers leave school thinking they want to go into food manufacturing, because if you were to believe the media, you’d struggle to find a less glamorous environment.
Boost the image
So, more needs to be done to boost the image of jobs in food and drink, with the focus placed on what you do, rather than where you do it – whether that’s through appealing to school-leavers with the offer of apprenticeships, or making it attractive to 21– to 22-year-old graduates.
It’s probably a combination of both, depending on the types of roles food manufacturers need to fill. We have some pretty good examples of clients all around the world, who would take people relatively new to the industry and get them to undertake roles that are different and interesting.
With an increasingly digital world and further moves towards automation, there will be fewer and fewer lower-skilled jobs in future – in this, the food industry is no different to any other. In turn, this will drive a requirement for a higher skill base to help automate those roles and keep them automated.
Outcome of Brexit
How much of that will be driven by the outcome of Brexit remains to be seen. If labour recruitment at the bottom end remains extremely low for one or two years, change will be forced to happen quite quickly.
If it’s not as tight – and depending on what agreement we get with Europe – then we could see more of a status quo.
In general, however, there is a need for the industry to upskill – and that’s only going to increase in the near future.