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Food manufacturers launch campaign to attract the next generation of engineers

10 June 2013

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

The ‘Take a Closer Look at Food Engineering’ campaign is targeted at 16 to 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 – MEng Food Engineering, at Sheffield Hallam University.

Engineering is one of food and drink manufacturing’s most vital specialisms as it is required to increase automation and plant reliability. However, current figures show an engineering skills gap. In addition, as there has been no university provision in the UK covering the specifics of food and drink engineering, graduates joining the industry with generic engineering degrees have required extensive on-the-job training before they can be deployed. 

From June, the campaign will be promoted via a number of channels including: targeted student advertising, e-newsletters, events and social media. Through the campaign’s main website, students will be able to read about the experiences of young engineers currently working with some of the UK’s best-loved food and drink brands. 
They will also be able to find out about the MEng Food Engineering degree, the top companies behind it and the great career prospects it offers. Via the website’s dedicated resource page, teachers and careers advisors will be able to download free materials such as posters. 

Sheffield Hallam University’s Open Day on 15 June 2013 will be the first chance for prospective students to speak directly to top engineers from industry and course leaders on the MEng Food Engineering degree. This is an opportunity for prospective students to get a real insight into the degree and its career prospects. 

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. The degree has also received co-investment from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills through the Employer Investment Fund.

National Skills Academy for Food & Drink Skills Academy CEO Justine Fosh (pictured), said: “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. The MEng Food Engineering degree puts the industry in a strong position to draw from graduates specifically trained in its workings. 

“Our aim is nothing less than to ensure food industry engineering gains the same standing among would-be graduates as aerospace or automotive engineering and we urge companies to commit levels of active support comparable to that provided by businesses in those industries.” 

Dr Martin Howarth, Head of Engineering and Mathematics at Sheffield Hallam University, added: “This campaign is a great way for students who are interested in a career in food engineering to find out more about what knowledge, skills and experience they need for careers in a sector where highly skilled employees are in great demand. 

“At the University’s Open Day on 15 June prospective students can come along and talk to staff from the University about the new food engineering degree. The course has been designed by the University and industry partners to prepare students for food engineering roles and will be available only at Sheffield Hallam University from 2014.” 

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