Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Hallam helps Food and Drink sector prepare for a changing workforce

A new report, led by Sheffield Hallam in collaboration with the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), has highlighted a growing skills shortage across all parts of the Food and Drink sector.

The report, published by The Food and Drink Sector Council (FDSC), outlines the industry’s ambition to address food chain productivity issues and the challenges it faces due to a shrinking labour force.

The ‘Preparing for a Changing Workforce’ report also highlights gaps in management and leadership skills across the sector which is acting as a barrier to the adoption of new technologies.

Coupled with an anticipated shortfall in labour, in part due to the end of freedom of movement with the EU, this is expected to threaten future productivity growth.

Dr Andrew Johnston, Reader in the Economics of Innovation and Entrepreneurship said: “At Sheffield Hallam we are committed to driving future economies, both regionally and nationally.

“In producing this report, we are shining a light on the challenges faced by the food and drink sector so that we can work with the government and employers to strengthen an industry which employs more than four million people across the UK and contributes £121 billion to national Gross Value Added.”

The publication of the report follows the opening of the University’s National Centre for Excellence in Food Engineering earlier this month (pictured), a new multi-million pound cutting-edge facility, designed to improve current food engineering processes, address the sector skills gap, and boost the competitiveness of the country’s largest manufacturing sector.

The Centre’s facilities and expertise will focus on tackling food industry challenges such as productivity, sustainability through minimising waste and reducing energy use, and addressing the health agenda. It will also support the food and drink industry by developing new and enhanced facilities, processes and equipment, and creating a knowledgeable and skilled workforce.

Dame Fiona Kendrick, Food and Drink Sector Council Member and Chair of the Workforce and Skills Group said: “We must work with employers, education providers and government to identify what actions we must take together to close the food and drink sector’s skills gap, and deliver productivity growth.

“Access to skills is a growing problem across the sector, and according to the FDSC’s Preparing for a Changing Workforce Report, the majority of companies expect the situation to become more difficult, as we will see a tighter labour market due to the ageing population coupled with lower net migration.”

“So, now is the time to act. I appeal to you to join us in this movement, and ensure the UK food and drink businesses lead the way in providing secure and well-paid jobs at all skills levels right across the UK.”

Ian Wright CBE, FDF Chief Executive said: “Ensuring UK food and drink has access to a highly skilled, well-paid and home-grown pool of talent is critical to the industry retaining its reputation as a global leader and will guarantee its long-term potential.

“This is the first time the food chain has come together to deliver such a far reaching, future focused report with a strong set of recommendations for action. This report provides an evidence base and an approach on which to build on, but it’s success can only be guaranteed if the FDSC and the wider food and drink supply chain is able to fully collaborate with government.”

Jobs in the food and drink sector are often perceived as low-skilled, but this report shows that businesses are seeking to fill roles across all skill levels from intermediate through to higher and advanced levels.

Food and drink businesses recognise the importance of Apprenticeships, but also emphasised that more support is required to improve engagement with the Apprenticeship Levy. Almost one third of respondents, eligible to pay the Apprenticeship Levy, reported writing it off as a tax due to uncertainty over how best to use the funds.

The report is the first to bring together the entire sector from ‘farm to fork’ and present a cross-chain approach to addressing future workforce, skills and productivity concerns.

Based on the evidence collected, the FDSC has identified early recommendations to upskill employees and attract future talent through: greater use of Apprenticeships and offering T Level work placements across the sector; improving accessibility and quality of training provision for food and drink businesses of all sizes throughout the UK; and professionalising leadership and management skills within the sector to ensure that managers are prepared for a changing workplace.

It is hoped that this multi-faceted approach, which combines industry-led solutions with related government interventions will advance training and skills development and transform the industry’s image as an employer.

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this story on our news site - please take a moment to read this important message:

As you know, our aim is to bring you, the reader, an editorially led news site and magazine but journalism costs money and we rely on advertising, print and digital revenues to help to support them.

With the Covid-19 pandemichaving a major impact on our industry as a whole, the advertising revenues we normally receive, which helps us cover the cost of our journalists and this website, have been drastically affected.

As such we need your help. If you can support our news sites/magazines with either a small donation of even £1, or a subscription to our magazine, which costs just £31.50 per year, (inc p&P and mailed direct to your door) your generosity will help us weather the storm and continue in our quest to deliver quality journalism.

As a subscriber, you will have unlimited access to our web site and magazine. You'll also be offered VIP invitations to our events, preferential rates to all our awards and get access to exclusive newsletters and content.

Just click here to subscribe and in the meantime may I wish you the very best.

Latest news

Related news

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.