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Our 2011 Report: – Delivering Skills for Future Growth

After an initial 6 month consultation period we issued our first report in October 2011, which was launched at the ‘Food: Growing It, Making It, Selling It’ conference in Llandudno. In it we surveyed over 2,000 businesses from across Wales.

The current sector at a glance:

  • 230,000 people are employed within the sector, 18% of Wales’s total workforce and 5.7% of the entire UK FDSC workforce

     

  • £6.5 billion of sales revenue is generated by the sector annually

     

  • 75,000 more skilled workers are required by 2020, be this through new entrants or up-skilling existing workers

The report found that 45% of food businesses reported technical skills gaps that needed filling which will only increase in the future, and that approximately 14,000 workers in the sector currently have skills deficiencies of some sort. This is especially prominent in areas relating to business management and accounting, and it was discovered that farmers in particular were susceptible to creating skills gaps in their businesses because of a tendency to create a division between farming activity and the business end of running a farm.

Other skills gaps identified in the sector include a lack of outsourcing knowledge, such as contract management and improved negotiation skills, as well as the need for better understanding around consumer demands such as the packaging, branding and marketing of products.

Furthermore, a disjoint between the needs and future needs of employers and current Further Education (FE) and Higher Education (HE) courses was found to exist, with businesses noting students were not being equipped sufficiently with the skills their businesses required. The report also found that a lack of understanding of the food and drink sector had led to a poor career perception of the sector as a whole, with many employers stating that young people entering the sector see it merely as a stepping stone to other professions, not as a target career; this has a detrimental impact on the quality of workers entering the workforce as well as making employees reluctant to invest in essential training that could combat the skills gap.

Key areas and recommendations for improvement at a glance:

  • General business management and administration, including numerical skills

     

  • Implementation of food safety legislation, and knowledge of food technology

     

  • Environmental and waste awareness and practice

     

  • Sales, marketing and PR, especially promoting a ‘sense of place’ linked to produce by promoting the local sourcing and the provenance of food and drink

     

  • Increase the profile and understanding of the industry as a potential career choice, and improve links between educational training providers and the wider industry

     

  • Improve recruitment and retention in the industry and reduce talent leaving Wales’s FDSC for work in other parts of the UK (especially with talented chefs and hospitality professionals)

     

  • Enhance conditions which enable cross-sectoral business to thrive

 

 

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