Preparing for a changing workforce: A food and drink supply chain approach to skills
24 October 2019
Report by the Food and Drink Sector Council.
This report outlines the future workforce and skills needs of the UK food and drink sector, and has brought together the entire supply chain to develop key recommendations for both government and industry that will deliver a real step change.
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Developing home-grown talent and improving workforce skills is a key priority of the UK food and drink sector
In November 2017, the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy White Paper ‘Building a Britain fit for the future’ announced the establishment of a Food and Drink Sector Council (FDSC). Through a new and ambitious partnership between government and industry, the Sector Council is seeking to increase the productivity and sustainability of the UK food and drink sector, securing its position as a global leader in safe, sustainable, affordable and high-quality
food and drink.
Over four million people are employed by our sector, spread across every nation, community and constituency in the UK. Our employment levels have grown by nine percent over the last ten years. Vibrant businesses employing hundreds of thousands of people in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales demonstrate our geographical diversity. That is why the food sector is vital to the functioning of the economy as a whole.
However, 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. This is why, as a member of the Sector Council, I have spearheaded a project to firstly deliver a single version of the truth on the future workforce and skills needs of the UK food and drink sector; and secondly bring together the entire
supply chain to develop key recommendations through a partnership between government and industry that will deliver a real step change. This will enable our sector to recruit, train and retain the next generation of farmers, engineers, food scientists, marketeers,
chefs and leaders.
Our early priorities are to increase participation in apprenticeships and T Levels within the food and drink sector; improve food and drink-specific training provision; and develop skills for the future, particularly around management and leadership.
We know 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.
I appeal to you to join us in this movement, and ensure that the UK food and drink businesses lead the way in providing secure and well-paid jobs at all skills levels right across the UK.
Dame Fiona Kendrick
Food and Drink Sector Council Member
and Chair of the Workforce and Skills Group