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Appetite for Skills starts strong in 2015

29 April 2015

Lincoln was the location for the first Appetite for Skills event of 2015 as students joined experts from the food industry to discover new possible paths into engineering.

Around 80 students from local schools attended the first Appetite for Skills day of 2015, held at the National Centre for Food Manufacturing (NCFM) at the University of Lincoln. 

The NCFM works with industry to help the food sector innovate, with specialist facilities, a food factory and cutting edge automation. The Centre provides undergraduate and postgraduate learning, apprenticeship training and work-based learning, as well as short courses and master classes. The Centre partners with businesses to carry out applied research, serving as a conduit for multidisciplinary research and practical problem solving for the food industry, informed by their funding partners and directly by the needs of those working in the business, including retailers and food businesses of all sizes from multinationals to SMEs and micro businesses.

Students were invited to travel around the stations, set up by Atlas Copco, Festo, PPMA and Rockwell Automation, who provided demonstrations for students and chatted to them about opportunities in the food industry. 

“The Appetite for Skills event held at the National Centre for Food Manufacturing at Lincoln University’s Holbeach campus on 25 February was a great start to this years programme,” says Andrew Macpherson, National Team Leader – Food and Beverage Industry at Festo. “Supported by various engineering suppliers and food producer Moy Park, all with the singular objective of raising awareness of engineering in the food industry, we had over 40 students and teachers attend the event. What becomes clear during discussions with pupils and also teaching staff is they are all unaware that food production involves engineering and that it can be a rewarding career. This is a major challenge for the industry. 

“When asking the question ‘are you interested in engineering and have you thought about engineering as a career?’, the reply is surprising. Many are interested, but they have never thought about food manufacturing. The standard reply is automotive, aerospace or one of the forces. These other sectors seem to have a stronger message that is clearly understood by their target audience and this could be something for the food industry to consider.”

Joanne Livsey from Carre’s Grammar school, who took 25 of their Year 10 students to the event, said: “The event was very well organised and provided a fabulous insight into the career opportunities for a wide range of engineering disciplines within the food industry.”

“It was a very well organised event and most informative for the students,” said Margaret Sharman from Branston Community Academy, whose design technology students attended the event. “They benefitted greatly from the hands on experience of the different machinery and equipment used in the food and drinks industry, a sector they knew nothing about. It was also invaluable for them to learn about the opportunities that exist, which will encourage and inspire them to consider a career in this field.”

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