Deliver skills for the future of our industry

As an industry, we recognise that in order to successfully drive growth in future years, we need to have the right people with the right skills.

"This is a long-term aspiration that requires long term thinking and a long term commitment."

A lot of work is being done to promote the industry as a career destination in schools, colleges and universities. For example we have produced a series of films that feature those that work in the industry and the wide variety of careers on offer. We also contribute to a number of careers' fairs and other events. Our innovative schools programme 'A Future in Food' is also working directly with school pupils.

Raise awareness of industry to our young people.

The Scottish Government has already provided support for our innovative schools programme 'A Future in Food' which brokers partnerships between local manufacturers and primary and secondary schools. This uses the industry as a tool to teach young people key skills whilst also encouraging them to think of the industry as a career destination. We are calling for continued support for this programme.

Skills ambassador network.

Manufacturing as an industry suffers from a negative perception about the jobs on offer within the industry.

"Many of the people that work in the sector are passionate, enthusiastic and are experts in their field. We want to harness these sentiments to teach others about the importance of the industry to Scotland."

We believe that, with support from Government, a skills ambassador network could make a significant difference.

'Open door days'

We are calling for support to hold a national 'Open Doors'event which would engage manufacturers with their communities who could see for themselves the range of opportunities available – from food scientist to nutritionist.

Investment in core and specialist skills.

The industry has both skill shortages and skill gaps. A skill shortage is where employers find it difficult to recruit anyone with expertise in for example food science, engineering and marketing. A skills gap is where staff lack the necessary skills to do their job. Skills gaps most frequently occur in areas like problem solving and oral communication. We need to work harder with Improve, our Sector Skills Council and Government to try and plug these gaps.

Improve the employability of our young people

The industry also believes that a number of other key changes would improve the employability of young people. These include:

  • Better informed careers advisers that have knowledge of the industry and are able to accurately advise on the many opportunities within the industry.
  • Better information for school leavers on the training and employment opportunities available.
  • Future funding for skills and apprenticeships must be demand led and support priority industries such as food and drink. Employers must have a greater say as to the courses on offer, ensuring a greater match between the skills prospective employees want and the skills that employers need.

Investment in staff training

81 per cent of the food manufacturing and processing industry invests in training. Vital support from Skills Development Scotland allows industry to invest in skills for the long term.

"We want to see initiatives like these protected – invest in people now so they can use those skills and training to be profitable to the country in the future".

More on the job training, delivered in a flexible way would also be of benefit to the economy. The industry also believes that apprentice schemes should not be limited to school leavers in order to assist adult learners looking to retrain.

More information

Download PDF: Manifesto: Supporting our Industry. Supporting growth. Supporting Scotland.