New report recognises the importance of the food and drinks industry

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A new report has recognised how the food and drink manufacturing sector is now a major contributor to the UK economy and will need investment in creating much needed high quality jobs for the future.

The UK Food Supply Chain report, authored by food and drink skills sector skills council Improve, in partnership with FDF and a number of other organisations, highlights how a workforce with the right skills will be critical to keeping the sector competitive against international manufacturers. Food and drink manufacturing will need at least 137,000 new employees over the next six years, many of which will be needed in scientific, engineering and management roles.

Traditionally the food and drink manufacturing sector has been thought of as employing low skilled factory workers. However, the industry is becoming increasingly automated and relies on highly skilled people to operate new complex technologies and ensure the machinery used to produce our food operates effectively and efficiently. This is proven by the fact that nearly 40% of all employees in the industry are skilled at level 3 or above.

Food and drink is the country’s biggest manufacturing sector in terms of turnover, Gross Value Added (GVA) and employment. It generates a significant 20% of turnover for the food chain, yet its employees account for only 10% of the total number of employees, which demonstrates that food and drink manufacturing is highly productive.

Whilst food and drink manufacturing is continuously growing, its future sustainability is highly dependant on the skills of its current workforce and crucially, its ability to attract the right talent for the future. With 20% of vacancies in the UK remaining hard to fill, support for promotion of the sector as a ‘career of choice’ is the key to continued future growth.

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