Food industry opens its door to inspire next generation

Posted on 3 Nov 2014 by Callum Bentley

More than 2,400 students and teachers are to be targeted in a bid to inspire interest in engineering and other STEM-related careers in the food and drink manufacturing sector.

Between October and November, food and drink businesses across the country will open their factory gates to showcase exciting and rewarding careers that can be highly skilled, high-tech and extremely rewarding.

But competition is fierce to attract the brightest and the best to the food and drink sector.  So, from Slough to Skelmersdale, Belshill to Birmingham, a record number of pupils will go behind the scenes of some of the UK’s best-known food and drink companies as part of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS)’ See Inside Manufacturing programme. Manufacturers aim to encourage students who have an enthusiasm in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) to apply that interest to careers such as food scientist or food engineer.

By highlighting the case studies of industry role models and providing examples of food and drink manufacturing careers during visits, they are hopeful of attracting the next generation of industry workers.

These industry and education partnerships form part of food and drink manufacturers’ drive to recruit students onto the industry-backed MEng Food Engineering degree at Sheffield Hallam University. This course has been specially designed to develop the leading food and drink engineers of the future and is delivered by the recently launched National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering.

Angela Coleshill, Director of Employment & Skills at the Food and Drink Federation, the voice of food and drink manufacturing, said: “Food manufacturing is the largest manufacturing sector contributing a gross value added of £24bn, making it even bigger than the UK automotive sector. The value of this vital sector to the economy and the consumer is well-understood, what is less well-known is the range of skilled roles on offer. Through initiatives like the Government’s See Inside Manufacturing programme and the creation of the UK’s first MEng Food Engineering degree we hope to raise the profile of careers in our sector and create a robust pipeline of skilled workers.”

Matthew Hancock Minister for Manufacturing said: “Food and drink is one of our great British industries and a jewel of our manufacturing sector. FDF members have engaged record numbers through See Inside Manufacturing and it’s fantastic to see them taking the lead again; creating the first ever MEng Food Engineering course in the UK. This will give the next generation the skills they need to rise through the ranks of food and drink; Britain’s largest manufacturing sector.”