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Food and drink businesses across South Wales urged to pledge to tackle skills shortfall

Businesses across Wales’ food and drink industry are struggling to recruit and retain skilled professionals despite the industry experiencing strong economic growth.

That’s according to the National Skills Academy for Food & Drink (NSAFD), the voice of food and drink careers across Wales, which is calling on local businesses across the industry to sign up to the Skills Pledge to tackle this shortfall.

In the last year alone, Welsh food and drink exports have gone up by 20% – this is compared to a 9.5% increase for the UK as a whole over the same period. And there are plans in place to increase industry turnover by 30% by 2020. Yet experts say that the industry will struggle to fulfil this growth potential as there isn’t the right appetite for careers in the sector.
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The Skills Pledge, which was created by the Welsh Government, forms a key part of the Skills Plan for the Welsh food and drink industry. The aim of the pledge is to improve the perception and understanding of the industry in Wales as offering an exciting career of choice. As such, the focus of the pledge is around encouraging businesses to support activity to improve the image of the industry as a diverse place to work.

By signing the pledge, businesses are committing to undertake one or more of the NSAFD activities available to engage local schools, communities and unemployed people to inform and educate them on the career opportunities available in the food supply chain.

Activities on offer to food and drink businesses across South Wales who sign the pledge include:

  • Ambassador Training –Training industry representatives to be Tasty Careers Ambassadors. This enables them to visit schools and talk about their job and what it entails as well as providing an overview of food and drink careers as a whole. 
  • Host a Tasty Tour – This involves inviting local schools onto company premises to see how dynamic and interesting the industry can be and the different jobs needed to make the food we eat.
  • Staff training – By signing the pledge, businesses are committing to regularly upskill and invest in the development of their staff to increase skills and retainment across the industry.
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After signing the pledge, businesses will undertake one or more of these activities each year for three years. With retailers increasingly expecting businesses to be engaging with schools, the pledge offers a great opportunity to demonstrate such engagement. From a reputational point of view, it enhances company image as a local employer of choice and highlights a business’s dedication to supporting and enriching the local community. The pledge also gives companies access to a prospective pool of talent now and for the future.

James Hicks, strategic development manager for the National Skills Academy for Food & Drink, commented: “There are a number of outdated stereotypes hindering recruitment across the food and drink industry, people assume that careers will be limited to catering, hospitality or even farming but this couldn’t be further from the truth. There is a huge range of careers available to suit a variety of skillsets, from manufacturing and product development to marketing and finance roles. It’s vital that we increase awareness of these opportunities if we are to maximise industry growth potential. And to do that, we need the support of food and drink businesses across South Wales.”

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