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Developing workforce skills, fair employment regulations, and ensuring access to labour is key for the Food and Drink Industry.

The FDF can guide your company through policy areas from apprenticeships and T levels to national living wage and immigration.

If you are interested in finding out more about careers and skills development in Scotland please visit the FDF Scotland website.


FDF-NSAFD Joint Apprenticeship Survey

In partnership with the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink (NSAFD), FDF have created a survey to establish the current state of apprenticeships in the food and drink industry. Responses to this survey will form a vital part of the FDF and NSAFD’s collaborative work on skills and will strengthen the lobbying position we bring to government.
The survey – which should take no more than 15 minutes – can be completed here and the deadline for responses is Friday 10 June 2022. 
We greatly appreciate you taking the time to complete this survey. If you have any questions please email A.Crooks@nsafd.co.uk or Griffin.Shiel@fdf.org.uk


EFRA Committee Labour Shortages Report

On 6 April 2022 the Efra Committee published its labour shortages report.  In the report which draws from evidence provided by stakeholders from across the food and drink supply chain, MPs outlined how the labour crisis and broader supply chain issues have already had a significant impact on the UK’s largest manufacturing sector as revenues among food and drink manufacturers have been suppressed by 15-20%. Further, the report warns that warned that the sector faces permanent shrinkage if the UK Government fails to tackle labour shortages as this will lead to to wage rises, price increases, reduced competitiveness and, ultimately, food production being exported abroad and increased imports. FDF provided evidence to the Committee and referenced through the Report with our messages on behalf of members directly quoted.

The report concludes that despite the sector flagging significant concerns, the shortage of labour took a toll on food security, animal welfare and the health of those who work in the industry. The Committee was frustrated by the reluctance of Government to engage with industry over labour shortages with evidence that Ministers failed to understand the issues and even sought to pass the blame onto the sector. The report urges Government to have a radical rethink to prevent future interventions coming too late.

Although there are suggestions in the report around immigration measures including a review of the Skilled Workers Visa scheme including the complexity and costs faced by employers (and tailoring the English language requirements to meet the needs of the sector), the Committee concludes that a reliance on overseas labour must be reduced in preference for a long-term labour strategy that grows and develops home-grown talent.

Schools White Paper

The Secretary of State for Education, The Rt Hon Nadhim Zahawi, launched the first Schools White Paper in six years entitled Opportunity for All: Strong schools with great teachers for your child.

Opportunity for All sets out proposals for the UK education system to support the UK Government’s Levelling Up ambitions through improvement to teaching, careers advice and a Parent Pledge. The Parent Pledge is a guarantee that should any child, in any school, fall behind in English or maths, they will receive additional support that will enable them to reach their potential.

Two key indicators of success have been announced to support the Government’s ambition:

  • 90% of primary school children to achieve the expected standard in Key Stage 2 reading, writing and maths by 2030 (In 2019, only 65% of children attained this standard)
  • national average GCSE grade in both English language and maths to increase from 4.5 in 2019 to 5 by 2030.

The FDF welcomes this commitment to ensuring all children get the support they need, particularly for maths and English given the issues caused by the competency requirements for these two subjects in the context of apprenticeships and upskilling.

The Government will launch a new careers programme for primary schools in areas of disadvantage and are extending the legal requirement to provide independent careers guidance to all secondary school children. This includes increasing the opportunities for them to meet providers of apprenticeships and technical education.

There will also be improved professional development for teachers and leaders on careers education, including strengthening understanding of apprenticeships and technical routes.

These are valuable commitments from the government which recognise the importance of careers guidance at a young age. If effectively implemented, these programmes can have a significant impact on careers awareness among secondary students of all ages. The FDF, along with the National Manufacturing Skills Taskforce will work with careers advisors and teachers to ensure that the vast array of exciting careers available at every level in the food and drink sector are included in the guidance given to students across the country.

Also included in the Schools White Paper are commitments to the following:

  • launch a new careers programme for primary schools in disadvantaged areas
  • provide more opportunities for students to meet providers of apprenticeships and technical education.
  • Improve professional development for teachers and leaders on careers education, including improving their understanding of apprenticeships and technical routes

The FDF sees working with schools and learning providers as a key part of our ambition to develop a sustainable skills pipeline within our industry to maintain a growing workforce. We have launched a Careers Passport with the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink, developed our own Skills Toolkit, and are in continuous conversation with government stakeholders across multiple departments on key issues such as the Apprenticeship Levy and T Levels. Issues relating to skills and education are discussed in our Employment Skills Forum. For information on the forum contact Griffin.Shiel@fdf.org.uk

Engineering Construction Industry Training Board Workforce Census

In Spring 2021 the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board conducted its first Workforce Census to provide a snapshot of the in-scope engineering construction workforce including Food and Drink Manufacturing. 

The census captures demographic data, feedback on recruitment challenges and workforce growth forecasts. 153 employers provided input and data, and their responses covered over 45,000 workers working on 1360 sites across all engineering construction sites in all areas of Great Britain. This represents more that half of the workforce in-scope to the ECITB. 

The ECITB has published 5 reports (listed below) from the data collected, all of which can be read here: https://www.ecitb.org.uk/blog/portfolio-items/ecitb-workforce-census-2021/ 

  • Overview report – a macro-level, national view of the whole data set
  • Oil & Gas – an analysis of data covering the oil & gas sector
  • Nuclear - an analysis of data covering the nuclear sector
  • Other sectors – an analysis of a further 5 key sectors in ECITB’s footprint
    • Chemicals
    • Power generation
    • Renewables
    • Food & drink
    • Water Treatment
  • Regional – an analysis taking a deeper dive into the different geographic regions of Great Britain

ECITB plans to repeat this census at least once every 3 years to maintain an accurate and up to date snapshot of the in-scope workforce, with a view to represent larger proportion of the industry next time. 

FDF Skills Toolkit

The Food and Drink Federation has launched a new toolkit to provide members with a single point of reference to find up to date guidance on the employment and skills schemes available to employers and how they and their employees can make best use of them.

The toolkit currently provides information on the following:

  • Apprenticeships and the apprenticeship levy
  • T Levels
  • Traineeships
  • Lifetime Skills Guarantee
  • Restart Scheme
  • Skills Bootcamps
  • Sector-Based Work Academies

As well as our guidance, members will find links to other useful resources from various governmental and non-governmental bodies including the Department for Education, Department for Work and Pensions and the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink.

The toolkit will be regularly updated to reflect changes and additions to the skills system and ensure that our members, as well as individuals, have the up to date information needed to make decisions to meet their training needs.

View toolkit

Related topics

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Ukraine crisis

We're urgently working with FDF member companies in our sector to understand the impact of the sanctions imposed on Russia. Businesses want to do the right thing in ensuring they abide by the measures taken by governments in response to Russian aggression. 


Education and skills

The FDF is finding proactive solutions to develop a skills pipeline for our members. Through apprenticeships, T Levels and retraining we are building the tools needed to maintain a growing workforce.

eu settlement - passport

EU settlement scheme and immigration

The FDF is supporting our members to stay informed on the latest changes to the new UK immigration system. This includes guidance on EU Settled Status for employees.

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Inclusion and diversity

The FDF is working with members to improve the state of inclusion and diversity in the food and drink manufacturing sector.


National living wage

Maintaining a competitive employment offer and ensuring compliant practice is important for our members. The FDF will help you understand the current landscape and push for your concerns to be heard.

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Government Food Strategy

The FDF welcome the new Food Strategy, which is an endorsement of the success and centrality of the UK’s food industry, from farming to manufacturing, retail and hospitality.

occupational health and safety

Occupational health and safety

Keep up to date with the latest HSE insights and information to help keep your workforce safe and your workplace compliant.


EU exit

The FDF produces a range of resources to help guide companies through the complexities arising as the UK leaves the EU. This includes our Brexit Roadmap resource. The FDF also runs various Brexit-related committees.

Report: Establishing the labour availability issues of the UK Food and Drink Sector

27 August 2021

The FDF in partnership with the NFU and a number of other food chain organisations has published a new report on Establishing the labour availability issues of the UK Food and Drink Sector.

Read more

Report: Food and Drink Inclusion and Diversity Report 2021

21 July 2021

Embodying the principles of inclusion and diversity has shown to enhance a company’s reputation, increase its talent pool when recruiting and improve productivity, innovation and decision making.

Read more

Report: Feeding the Future: Working together to build the National Food Strategy

08 October 2021

The Food and Drink Sector Council offers food chain solutions as part of the industry’s contribution to the UK Government’s forthcoming National Food Strategy.

Read more