UK skills shortage threatens food and drink manufacturing competitiveness, reveals report


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A shortage of talented candidates is threatening the food and drink manufacturing sector, according to a survey published today by recruitment consultancy JAM.

The report, which draws on the opinions of more than 750 food and drink manufacturing professionals, reveals widespread concern that a skills shortage could potentially leave the UK lagging behind international rivals in the sector.

Nearly half (46%) of respondents claims their company is struggling to find candidates with high-level skills, with shift managers and product development specialists highlighted as particularly scarce.

The report also revealed that 46% believe that young people emerging from education without the necessary skills for work will pose the greatest risk to the sector in the next 10 years.

When questioned about attracting fresh talent, 64% said they believe that the industry itself is not doing enough to raise awareness of career opportunities.

The report found that 65% claim their salary is not indicitaivce of their abilities. Over half (52%) of the professionals surveyed earn a salary of less than £20,000 and not one respondent took home more than £70,000.

Two-thirds of respondents felt that the Government should do more to tackle the skills shortage, with the provision of funding for training in manufacturing subjects and businesses offering graduate and apprenticeship schemes being the most popular means of support.

If additional financial aid from the Government was forthcoming, 56% state that their company would be more likely to take on apprentices.

Samantha Tildsley, principal account manager at JAM Recruitment, said: "High profile acquisitions of British food and drink manufacturers such as the take-over of Cadbury by US-based Kraft Foods last year will be fresh in the minds of many, so it's little surprise that our respondents expressed concern at how the UK is performing against international competitors.

"This unease is heightened by apprehension over the sector's ability to attract new talent. Employers need to increase their efforts in raising awareness of opportunities among young people and look to offer competitive remuneration to ensure the skills of their future workforce are up to scratch.

"While change does need to be driven from within, it is also made apparent that the food and drink industry should not have to bear this cross alone.

She added: "The Government should see this as an opportunity to support British businesses by incentivising them to invest in training and apprenticeships."

In November HR magazine held a Live Web TV debate on the skills gap in the UK. This is still available to view and you can also take part in the research.

Click here to register and watch now

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