Apprentices give tips for a career in the food industry

Posted on 22 Nov 2011

At a careers seminar hosted by the Food and Drink Federation on 21st November, apprentices Faye Hudson and Chris Brown from Kraft Foods, and Tom Walden from Nestlé UK, shared their top tips for securing an apprenticeship in the food industry.

With approximately 1,000 candidates applying for every six apprentice vacancies, competition is tough. The apprentices praised their employers for providing them with support whilst they trained and gave the following advice for people wanting to follow in their footsteps:

  • Get as much work experience as you can to stand out from the crowd.
  • Be confident during interviews.
  • Be prepared to give examples of key employability skills, such as team building.

Speaking at the event “Attracting Talent to Support Growth”, which set out the challenges faced by the food industry in getting highly skilled young people into its science and engineering roles, all felt that more could be done in schools to help prepare them for the world of work.

The apprentices said that training for interviews and inviting industry into schools would be just two ways of plugging the gap between education and work. They believed that awareness of all the career opportunities on offer needed to be raised.

Angela Coleshill, director of competitiveness at the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), kicked off a series of talks by industry speakers. Ms Coleshill outlined how the FDF has been working to address the image of the sector and increase the number of opportunities available to young people.

She said: “The future sustainability of the food industry is highly dependent on the skills of its workforce and its ability to innovate. With over a third of the workforce due to retire within the next five years, and the current shortage of technicians, apprenticeships will be a key mechanism for the industry to attract talent for the future.”

She continued: “FDF members are taking collective action to help build a pool of talented apprentices. FDF’s Graduate Ambition will also see us working with universities to develop a new degree course equipping graduates with the skills that the food and drink industry requires.”

Justine Fosh, director of the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink, shared research findings from Improve, the sector skills council for the food and drink industry, which revealed there is still much to do to address the misconceptions young people have about working in the sector.

Following the event, attendees visited the Food and Drink Manufacturing Showcase exhibition at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. The event is running for a fortnight.

See our January issue for a special feature that joins the dots between the myriad of youth engagement initiatives now active in the manufacturing sector.

Tom Moore