Policies for the new Government to deliver a thriving food and drink industry

Work with us to develop home-grown talent, boost skills and apprenticeships for a global UK.

Creating highly skilled, home-grown talent is crucial for a new, globally competitive nation. As part of a comprehensive industrial strategy, the next Government must commit to long-term investment in skills and apprenticeships so the UK remains the destination of choice for multi-national food and drink manufacturers.

Our sector offers enormous potential as a high value manufacturing sector, but faces a looming skills gap due to demographic change. This is compounded by the uncertainty that a new immigration policy may put at risk our valued EU workforce, and leave our sector with an immediate skills gap we are unable to close.

Over a third of our workforce is set to retire by 2024 and we will need 140,000 new recruits to fill this looming shortage. UK food and drink manufacturers, like the rest of the agri-food supply chain, have benefitted from bringing in labour from the EU. Almost a third (29 per cent) of our workforce are EU nationals, with a high percentage carrying out vital production, technical and specialist roles.

Through a new industrial strategy, we need a significant step change to develop home-grown talent and to tackle the structural barriers which prevent our sector from securing particular skills, caused by image, location or competition from other STEM sectors.

We call on the next Government to help us to:

  • Deliver co-ordinated careers action and a more strategic approach to engagement with schools, so we can encourage home-grown talent to replace our ageing workforce, thereby helping to reduce our reliance on EU national workers in the longer-term.
  • Ensure the skills gaps of the country's largest manufacturing sector are addressed within technical education reforms, including the Institutes of Technology. The proposed T Levels fall short for food and drink.
  • Fulfil FDF's pledge to increase the apprentice workforce in food and drink manufacturing from one to three per cent by 2020 and tackle market failures such as the fragmented apprenticeship provision for our sector and lack of new standards at level 4 and above.
  • Create a new immigration policy which reflects the importance of skilled workers to our industry and considers food and drink a priority sector.

For any queries, please contact press.office@fdf.org.uk