Pledge for attracting more women into science, technology and engineering

Food and drink is the largest manufacturing sector in the UK, producing some of Britain's best loved brands. Food and drink manufacturers are committed to attracting more women into the exciting range of careers available in science, technology and engineering (STEM) in our industry.

FDF will support our members to do this through the work of our award winning careers campaign 'Taste Success – A Future in Food', development of the UK's first food engineering degree at Sheffield Hallam University, and by working with members to support their own skills activities.

FDF headline pledges

  • FDF has committed to raising awareness of STEM career opportunities and promote women working in science and engineering in our industry at more than 20 events over the next 12 months, reaching over 100,000 students. Following these events we aim to receive 500 inquiries about our industry. FDF will monitor how many inquiries are from women interested in joining our industry and ensure that our response highlights the range of opportunities for women - capturing their interest through our case studies and careers collateral.
  • FDF and our members commit to doubling the number of food and drink manufacturing visits for girls over the next 12 months. Visits will involve direct contact with people and processes in a food environment with the aim of engaging directly inside industry with over 100 female students by May 2016.
  • FDF commits to launching a new mentoring scheme for MEng Food Engineering applicants and students, with the aim of ensuring at least 40% of all mentors are female by May 2016.

FDF Who we are

The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) represents the UK's largest manufacturing sector, food and drink manufacturing with a Gross Value Added (GVA) of £21.9bn. Our industry currently employs around 400,000 people. For our industry to grow sustainably and remain competitive in the global market place, we must attract the best talent and build a highly skilled workforce.

Our industry will need to secure 109,000 new staff by 2022 with higher level occupations set to expand throughout the industry, accounting for 17,000 of the new roles required. The skills challenge our industry faces is four-fold.

  1. An ageing workforce , with over a third of employees set to retire by 2022
  2. Talent shortages as industry moves away from a lower skills base to more highly technical skills
  3. Low apprenticeship numbers who currently make up around one per cent of the total workforce
  4. STEM skills gaps particularly among food scientists, technologists and engineers

Our approach

  • FDF commits to raising awareness of STEM career opportunities and promote women working in science and engineering in our industry at more than 20 events over the next 12 months, reaching over 100,000 students. Following these events we aim to receive 500 inquiries about our industry. FDF will monitor how many inquiries are from women interested in joining our industry and ensure that our response highlights the range of opportunities for women - capturing their interest through our case studies and careers collateral.
    • FDF will continue to identify careers awareness opportunities and utilise these to raise the profile of our sector and promote women in science and engineering working in our industry. We will focus on promotions during National Careers Week, National Apprenticeship Week and National Women in Engineering Day.
  • FDF and our members commit to double the number of food and drink manufacturing factory visits for girls over the next 12 months, with the aim of reaching over 100 female students by May 2016.
    • Working with Women in Science, Engineering and Technology (WiSET) food and drink, manufacturers will continue to host Girls' Days allowing groups of female students studying mathematics and science to discover what it's like to be an engineer in the UK's largest manufacturing sector and to speak to female engineers to find out what their job is really like. These visits also inform the girls about the industry's need for more engineers and the MEng Food Engineering degree at Sheffield Hallam University [www.foodengineer.co.uk], designed to create employment- ready mechanical engineers with the skills most sought after by food manufacturers.
  • FDF commits to launching a new mentoring scheme for MEng Food Engineering applicants and students.
    • Launched in April 2014, the aim of the MEng Food Engineering mentoring scheme is to create a network allowing MEng Food Engineering applicants and students to develop peer-to-peer relationships with engineering graduates working in food and drink manufacturing and to hear about the exciting projects that they are currently working on.
  • FDF members pledge to increase the number of women signing up as STEM Ambassadors.
    • Food and drink companies will continue to support the STEM ambassador programme and increase the number of female ambassadors who support careers events, go into schools to talk about their careers pathways and inspire young people. In addition we will nominate a 'top level' FDF ambassador with the role of engaging in debates and discussions on women in STEM. FDF's Director of Regulatory, Science and Health Barbara Gallani, who is one of the Science Council's 'Top 100' UK practising scientists, will take on this role from next month.
    • Alongside the STEM Ambassador programme, we will continue to promote the Scottish Food and Drink Federation's (SFDF's) Food and Drink Skills Ambassadors Network, funded by Skills Development Scotland. Based on the current cohort of 115 Scottish Food & Drink Ambassadors, a very healthy 42% are females and their roles span a very wide spread of jobs/careers to challenge outdated perceptions and inspire more young females into the sector.
  • FDF will pledge to increase the use of positive female role models in our Taste Success careers campaign and continue to develop materials targeted to a female audience.
    • FDF's award winning Taste Success careers campaign aims to promote our industry and engage with young people through careers events, schools outreach, digital collateral, case studies (print and video) and raise awareness of the exciting career prospects that our sector has to offer. Our materials include a good proportion of female case studies, which help bring to life some of the roles women have in our industry and the variety of STEM careers available. Through the campaign we will build and maintain existing relationships with organisations such as Engineering UK, Tomorrow's Engineer and NotGoingtoUni with a specific focus on the female demographic.
  • FDF and its members will work with University Technical Colleges (UTCs) and other relevant organisations, to promote the new Apprenticeships for Food and Drink Mechanical and Multi-skilled Maintenance Engineers to young women.
    • Following FDF's industry pledge which quadrupled Apprenticeships starts across our sector in England and Scotland from August 2011 to December 2012, we have begun developing a ground-breaking new Apprenticeship standard for Food and Drink Mechanical and Multi-skilled Maintenance Engineering roles, working with the Institutions of Mechanical Engineers (IMECHE) and Engineering and Technology (IET) to create higher standards with more rigorous training for learners and providing them with specialised skills that our industry requires. Clear progression routes into Apprenticeships and higher education are also critical and we will work with UTCs, in particular Sheffield and Wigan, to support their work to increase the number of females studying STEM Apprenticeships.

    Supporting FDF members

    This pledge is supported by FDF's member companies, including: Agrico UK Ltd, Britvic Plc, Cargill Plc, Coca-Cola Enterprises, KP Snacks, Mars, Mondelez International, Nestlé UK, PepsiCo, Premier Foods and United Biscuits. Along with the Scottish Food and Drink Federation.

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Last reviewed: 27 Jun 2016