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Appetite for Skills set for takeoff

26 March 2012

Appetite for Skills, a student workshop associated with Appetite for Engineering and Food Processing, will take place at the University of Lincoln's National Centre for Food Manufacturing (NCFM) on 27 March

The day will take place between 10am-3pm and will include presentations from Samworth Brothers (10 minutes), Rockwell Automation (10 minutes) and Marks & Spencer (10 minutes) to start with.

After a changeover, there will be presentations from Festo, STI/GE, and Marel - also all 10 minutes each. During this time there will be a demonstration of the Britvic and Ishida Line (from Mike Dudbridge) and an ABB presentation in the Ishida training room.

There will also be time for the students to walk around the conferenceand landing area and see speakers and demonstrations again.

''I know that with the food industry's help we can make these two days work, giving ammunition for us to apply to the Government for a grant to run a regular monthly workshop, at a dozen locations around the country,'' says Peter Whitfield, founder of Appetite for Engineering and Appetite for Skills.

''The application is in hand, and is strengthened with support so far with speakers so far from ABB, Britvic, Festo, Marks & Spencer and Samworth Brothers who will be wowing the students with how exciting the food and drink industry is.''

Mike Mountain, chief engineer at Samworth Brothers, is an enthusiastic proponent of the workshop. He says: ``In light of the fact the food and drink Industry is facing an impending skills shortage, I believe the Appetite for Skills workshop is an extremely timely and good initiative. We need to make young people aware that the sector is an exciting, interesting and rewarding profession to be in.

``I believe that the sector is entering into a very interesting and challenging time while it moves itself into the 21st Century. More companies are realising they need to embrace automation and sustainability to remain profitable and competitive nationally and internationally, and for them to do this they need to attract the best apprentices and graduates.

``Fortunately the Government has a long last realised how important this sector is to the economy and how much potential it has for the future with the recent funding and initiatives being good to see.

``By bringing together students with companies, engineers and managers from the sector in a manufacturing environment we can hopefully dispel the myths they have of the industry. Perhaps another way we could consider using to reach the students is through their more accepted forms of communication the Web, Facebook and Twitter?''

Nicki Hunt, the careers campaign manager for the Food & Drink Federation (FDF), says: "Food manufacturing has tremendous potential for growing 20% by 2020 and is being recognised as a key driver of the UK economy.

To make the most of our growth potential we need to focus on recruiting the most talented staff and developing the skills of our current workforce. We realise we have an image issue to address as many students just see hairnets, wellies and production lines as being what food manufacturing is all about.

"They may miss the many fantastic opportunities and wide range of entry routes that industry can offer as well as the excellent pay and prospects. Our ambition is to attract the brightest and best for all sectors including science, engineering and brand management. It's time for us to showcase how much our industry has to offer as a career choice.

"Through our Taste Success - A Future in Food campaign we will be speaking to students and the people that influence them, such as careers advisers and teachers. We also have a role to play in engaging stakeholders throughout food and drink manufacturing and ensuring that we are working in partnership to make an industry wide impact."


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