SFDF calls for closer collaboration

Businesses and educators must work even closer together to equip Scotland’s future workforce with the right skills if its food and drink industry is to continue to thrive. That was the key message at a Scottish Food and Drink Federation (SFDF) reception at the Scottish Parliament last night.

Senior representatives from Scotland’s food and drink industry, the education sector and government highlighted what more could be done to improve productivity and attract new talent to the sector.

The focus has to be in STEM-related areas (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and government support remains vital to addressing this challenge.

UK food and drink manufacturers must recruit 170,300 new employees by 2020 in order to continue to innovate to reduce their environmental impact and offer a wide range of affordable and nutritious food and drink.

Through SFDF’s A Future in Food programme, more than 70 companies have forged partnerships with schools across Scotland and increased awareness of career opportunities in the sector. Launched in 2011 and funded by the Scottish government, A Future in Food has engaged with over 3,000 students and also proactively encouraged and participated in the development of a number of food manufacturing qualifications.

Dr Colette Backwell, director at the SFDF, says, “For Scotland’s largest manufacturing sector – food and drink – to remain world leading, we must take action to attract a talented future workforce. The importance of collaboration between government, the private and education sectors cannot be overstated and, with SFDF’s A Future in Food programme, we’ve helped more of Scotland’s young people find out about the wealth of opportunities on offer in our sector.”

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