Food and drink, the UK’s biggest manufacturing sector, contributes more than £31bn to our economy and employs around four million workers across its supply chain.
Yet, the sector has an ageing workforce and has struggled to attract young people, mainly due to misconceptions about working conditions, pay rates and a lack of career opportunities. But perhaps it’s more than that.
Disconnected from the industry
As a nation we remain ‘disconnected’ with food and how it’s produced to some degree, although the recent BBC2 series of Inside the Factory has shone a new positive light on the industry. But a career in the food industry still isn’t promoted effectively to young people.
So, what can we – and, more importantly, are we – doing about it?
FDQ has specialised in the food industry for almost 20 years. During that time apprenticeship-style programmes have seen many changes, but nothing as ground-breaking as the new standards.
Designed by food employers, these are fit for purpose, with the industry no longer willing to accept a tick-box approach that neither produces the skills nor the type of young workers they need.
The new apprenticeships develop valuable transferable skills, require dedication and commitment and, in return, provide a springboard for genuine career progression.
The big difference is the end ‘examination’ each apprentice must undertake to prove their knowledge and skills from within the food manufacturing environment.
Now the momentum has begun, we must not lose it. I’d appeal to manufacturers to reach out to young people – in schools, colleges, career fairs and especially in the space they’re in, online.
Showcase your successful apprentices in short video clips and demonstrate the vibrancy of the food industry. Sponsor school food projects and open your factory doors to school groups. In short, engage, engage, engage.