FDF warned that the food industry’s future sustainability is highly dependent on the skills of its workforce and that the industry needs to improve its image if it wants to attract talent to the sector.

This was the subject of FDF’s Director of HR, Angela Coleshill’s presentation at the ‘Attracting Talent and Increasing Productivity’ conference, organised by FDF and the National Skills Academy for Food & Drink, in partnership with Improve, the food and drink skills council.

The event provided a platform for FDF to profile its new careers campaign ‘Taste Success – A Future in Food’, which aims to show potential entrants that the UK food and drink manufacturing sector is a ‘career of first choice’ providing real opportunities for individuals to build their own skills and experience as well as a long-term rewarding career.

The future sustainability of the food industry is highly dependent on the skills of its workforce and their ability to innovate. With over a third of the work force due to retire in the next 20 years, and the current shortage of qualified food scientists and technologists, support for promotion of careers is vital to attract talent to the sector and enable future growth.

Angela Coleshill, FDF’s Director of Competitiveness, said: “Like many other manufacturing sectors, the food and drink industry suffers from a poor image against other career choices. Figures show that one in five food scientist and food technologist vacancies remain hard to fill which is a threat to our future ability to innovate.

“FDF is committed to addressing these issues by working with our members and key stakeholders to raise our sector’s profile as a career destination of choice for school leavers and graduates.

“Further work in partnership with the National Skills Academy for food and drink will set us on a path to harness and develop talent to ensure we have the technicians, team leaders and middle managers of the future; if the UK food and drink industry is to compete, not only at a national level but on a global scale it must improve its productivity and ability to deliver solutions to complex technological advances. We believe that the key to that success lies in both attracting talent for the future and building the skills of the existing workforce to be able to respond to these challenges.”