Today saw the launch of the ‘Tasty Careers’ campaign, a new programme from Improve (the Food and Drink Sector Skills Council) and supported by DEL and DARD. Tasty Careers has been designed to educate and inform young people about the significant career opportunities that exist within the food and drink manufacturing industry.
Minister Michelle Gildernew officially launched the campaign, supported by food industry leaders, public officials, and representatives from local schools. Guests at the event in the Waterfront Hall heard about the impending skills shortage within the sector.
There are over 18,500 full time employees in the local food and drink manufacturing industry. Due to an ageing workforce, it is expected that 6,000 skilled workers will need to be recruited before 2017 – approximately one third of the current employment levels. Contributing about £3 billion a year to the local economy, food and drink is the single largest manufacturing industry in Northern Ireland.
The ‘Tasty Careers’ campaign has identified 30 young people as real-life case studies from a range of job types and levels within the sector. These case studies are now available as a careers resource to teachers, young people and their parents through a ‘teachers pack’ and website: www.tastycareers.org.uk.
In addition some of these young people will act as ambassadors for the programme; visiting schools throughout Northern Ireland and providing students with insight into their day-to-day jobs and long-term career prospects.
Geoff Lamb, NI Operations Manager, Improve, said: “Our recent research* has shown that there is a clear lack of awareness among pupils and even teachers and parents about the food and drink manufacturing sector. Only 3% of pupils interviewed said they would consider a career in the sector, yet with an average starting salary of £22,000 and good long term career prospects the opportunities are excellent.
“Companies from Northern Ireland must be able to compete in a global economy on the basis of the skills and productivity of their workforce. The launch of ‘Tasty Careers’ is a marked step forward in meeting this goal and reducing the skills gaps and shortages in the sector. Supported by government bodies and key players within the industry itself, we hope that the programme will really help in boosting the profile of jobs in the food and drink manufacturing industry to young people.”
For more information or to book an ambassador, schools can visit www.tastycareers.org.uk
Caption: Pictured with the Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew are (l-r-) Rhiannon Stewart (Lagan College) , Emma Houston (Aquinas Grammar), Jordan Burns (Belfast Royal Academy) and Geoff Lamb (NI Operations Manager, Improve)