Packaging industry faces “fundamental problem”

The UK’s packaging and print industries are being called on to support the development of the sector and promote it as a viable career option. 

The meat sector relies heavily on the packaging industry to deliver innovative and practical solutions in keeping products fresh and aesthetically pleasing.  

In an effort to secure the future of the industry, Graphic Packaging UK is encouraging young people exiting full-time education to recognise the opportunities in packaging and print. According to Graphic Packaging UK, fewer young people are entering into the industry.

“With the country’s current employment level, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to fill positions in packaging technology, as well as other packaging-related vacancies,” said Tom Garsed, marketing, design and innovation director with Graphic Packaging UK.

“The packaging industry itself is also becoming more advanced, so more detailed knowledge is required, particularly in the STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] and design subjects.

“We have a fundamental problem in the UK with packaging and print education not pulling talented young people into the industry. All of my colleagues and peers are trained in other disciplines and may do a print or packaging diploma later in their career, if their employer is willing to invest.”

He added that packaging is an exciting and vibrant career option, and it should be supported by appropriate training and education programmes to attract young talent.

According to Graphic Packaging UK, the sector employs 85,000 people in the UK, a figure that represents 3% of the UK manufacturing workforce.

“I totally concur with Tom’s view and am pleased to confirm that a number of industry players across the industry have come together to develop a packaging curriculum to directly support the issues Tom has highlighted,” added Jo Stephenson, director of Women in Packaging UK.

She commented that, with the backing from a number of retailers, brands, packers and supply chain partners, a new Packaging Steering Group has been formed. “The PackFuture initiative, as it is now known, has recently successfully developed a Postgraduate Certificate in ‘Advances in Food and Beverage Packaging’ to be launched at Chester University with further undergraduate programmes to follow.

“The group has a number of courses in development to fulfil a complete packaging curriculum, including a certificate in packaging technology, new CPD courses and eventually a BSc and MSc in packaging technology. However, it’s a lot of work to develop the content and we need a lot of people from the industry to make all this happen.”

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