Food industry needs to attract youngsters, argues Heath

Food research and development needs to find a way of attracting more young people into its employment, Farming Minister David Heath told a panel on Monday.

At the International Food and Drink Event (IFE) in London, Heath said there were more undergraduates studying for forensic sciences than there were jobs in the sector, because it’s an exciting subject. He said getting people to understand that the food industry is the UK’s biggest industry has “huge potential”.

He said: “Unfortunately all of the companies sometimes find it difficult to recruit the brightest and the best and that’s something I’m determined to deal with. We’re putting several things together in order to address that shortfall.”

However, Heath explained that some of the issues were to do with the image of the industry. He said he wanted there to be something of a “CSI Sainsbury’s” about the industry, which would lead to an exciting future for people in the food sector.

Meanwhile Rosie Boycott, chair of the London Food Board, said her organisation was recruiting a lot of apprentices into food. She added that part of the problem surrounding the lack of youngsters eager to get into the food industry lay with schools and careers advisors in schools.

She said: “In schools food doesn’t rate at all – there’s no careers advice and it’s not even on the careers charter, which is extraordinary.”

Boycott proposed that the industry needed to get this right together, since, despite being the biggest employer, it still conjured up images of people being in back kitchens picking up wet potato peelings.


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