Food manufacturers launch campaign to attract engineers

Posted on 11 Jun 2013

Manufacturers of some of the UK’s best-known food and drink brands have launched a national campaign to attract their next generation of engineers.

The Take a Closer Look at Food Engineering campaign is targeted at 16-19 year olds, parents, teachers and other careers influencers, and aims to raise awareness of food engineering as a career and of the new industry-backed degree in Food Engineering at Sheffield Hallam University.

Engineering is considered a fundamental element of food and drink manufacturing as it is required to increase automation and plant reliability. However, current figures show an engineering skills gap. In addition, the lack of a university provision in the UK covering the specifics of food and drink engineering has meant that extensive on-the-job training was needed for graduates before they could start working.

Starting this month, the campaign will be promoted via a number of channels including: targeted student advertising, e-newsletters, events and social media.

Sheffield Hallam University will also have an Open Day on June 15.

Director of employment and skills at the Food and Drink Federation Angela Coleshill said: “Our industry’s ability to drive innovation to achieve our ambition to grow 20% by 2020 lies very much in the hands of our employees, particularly our future engineers. This is why businesses from across the industry have pledged their support and worked together to create the MEng Food Engineering degree at Sheffield Hallam University.”

The campaign and the creation of the MEng Food Engineering degree is part of Graduate Excellence, a project to create employment-ready engineering graduates for the food and drink manufacturing industry. The project is being delivered through a partnership of the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), The National Skills Academy for Food & Drink and Sheffield Hallam University.

Justine Fosh, CEO of the National Skills Academy for Food & Drink, also commented: “The shortage of engineers has caused intense competition between industries and is particularly important to food and drink businesses where engineering skills relevant to the sector are vital to drive growth and innovation in increasingly hi-tech automated production environments.

“Our aim is nothing less than to ensure food industry engineering gains the same standing among would-be graduates as aerospace or automotive engineering.”