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FDF’s stand at Big Bang Fair popular with students, parents and MPs

23 March 2016

Representatives from some of the UK’s most well-known food and drink companies came together to educate and inspire students to consider careers in food and drink manufacturing at the Big Bang UK Scientist and Engineers Fair held in Birmingham last week. 

PepsiCo UK, Mars UK, McCain Foods, Mondelez International and United Biscuits offered a range of interactive activities to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers at the Food and Drink Federation organised industry hub. Industry automation FDF professional affiliate members and stakeholders Festo, Omron and Siemens also exhibited at the FDF stand. 

For UK food and drink manufacturing to continue to grow and remain competitive in the global market place, companies need to attract the best talent and build a skilled workforce. The challenge of an ageing workforce means that 109,000 new recruits are needed by 2022 in the food industry alone. The Food and Drink Federation recently pledged to treble the total apprenticeship workforce in the sector by 2020.

Senior MPs including DEFRA Minister of State George Eustice and the Prime Minister’s Apprenticeships Advisor Nadhim Zahawi both visited the stand and spoke with apprentices and their colleagues about careers in the industry.
Food Minister George Eustice MP said:

“The Government has committed to trebling the number of apprenticeships in food and farming to offer a bright future for our young people. Food manufacturing is a bigger industry than cars and aerospace combined and food and farming generates over £100 billion for our growing economy. Ensuring our food businesses can thrive is central to the government’s long-term economic plan. 
“There are lots of opportunities for young people in this industry and I want the food sector to be a top destination for high-flying graduates and apprentices. We are already seeing more skilled workers enter the industry – rising faster than other areas of manufacturing."

Nadhim Zahawi MP said:

“Apprenticeships are the best way to meet the growing skills need in the food and drink manufacturing sector; as well as offering an incredible opportunity to earn a wage, gain real work experience, develop skills and earn a qualification. 
Speaking with apprentices from the food industry at the Big Bang Fair, it is clear that these young people have embraced that opportunity and have bright careers ahead of them. 

I really welcome the fact that employers from this industry are leading the charge and working together to deliver the apprenticeship growth that both the sector and the country need. The Government is committed to trebling the number of apprenticeships in this industry, and it’s great to see these opportunities are being showcased to the next generation.”

Angela Coleshill, Competitiveness Director at the Food and Drink Federation, said:

“Britain’s food and drink industry – the largest manufacturing sector - faces a serious skills shortage. That’s why leading food and drink companies and competitors are coming together at events such as the Big Bang Fair to inspire young people to consider a career in our industry. 

There is no substitute for hearing about food industry careers first-hand from apprentices, managers and directors in a range of fields – from engineering and technology-related roles to science, research and marketing. Building awareness of these opportunities is key to attracting candidates, alongside increasing industry awareness of the positive benefits employing apprentices.”

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