Pupils at a Llanelli school have been crowned winners in the regional final of the Tasty Challenge – an innovative competition designed to raise awareness of careers in the Welsh food and drink industry – hosted by the Business in the Community (BITC) Cymru and Careers Wales Carmarthenshire Business Class cluster and sponsored by Castell Howell Foods.
Ysgol Bryngwyn School took home the Tasty Challenge award at the event, which saw year 9 pupils from schools across the county challenged to develop an idea for a new food or drink product, targeted at Welsh customers.
Designed by the National Skills Academy for Food & Drink (NSAFD), the voice of food and drink skills and careers across Wales, the Tasty Challenge programme aims to introduce students to the variety of career opportunities available across the food and drink industry including engineering, science, marketing, finance, design and HR.
300 year 9 students from Ysgol Bryngwyn, St John Lloyd, Maes y Gwendraeth, Bro Myrddin, Y Strade, Glan Y Mor and Coedcae, took part in the Tasty Challenge to battle it out to win the title of Best Welsh Food or Drink Product. Divided into groups of four to six, students applied for specific roles within their team including project manager, financial manager, NPD manager and marketing manager, replicating just some of the jobs needed in the food and drink industry. Students had 17 hours to come up with a concept, organise a presentation, compile a business plan and pitch to peers and teachers.
On February 5th, selected student groups who made it through to the next phase of the challenge, presented and pitched their ideas to a judging panel including; Kath Jones, Sales Director of Castell Howell Foods; Sue Husband, BITC Cymru Director; Gareth Morgan, Director of Education Cyngor Sir Gar; Justine Fosh from the Wales Food and Drink Industry Board (FDWIB), the body delivering the new era of growth and success for the Welsh food and drink sector, and Lisa Fearne from YSied/S4C.
The judges awarded the Tasty Challenge award to Ysgol Bryngwyn for their innovative snack product, ‘Dragon Bites’, which combined traditional Welsh cakes with an oat and granola bar. Second place went to Ysgol Coedcae School, also in Llanelli, who reinvented the traditional Welsh cawl to be vegan and gluten free.
Edward Morgan, Group CSR and Training Manager at Castell Howell, who led the challenge, said: “From our point of view as a business based in Carmarthenshire, we need to promote the food sector not only for ourselves, but to encourage an interest from younger generations in the career opportunities that are available with us and with other businesses in Wales.
“This final Tasty Challenge event was great. We were thrilled to be part of the event and on the judging panel this year and see the keenness expressed by the students involved.”
The Tasty Challenge is part of a wider Welsh Government initiative with the aim of changing the perception of careers in the food and drink sector. The FDWIB has worked with Welsh Government and NSAFD to establish a Skills Pledge, where businesses sign up to help showcase the wide variety of jobs and roles available in food and drink in Wales. Castell Howell, a partner of this season’s Tasty Challenge, is one of 50 businesses that has signed The Pledge.
Speaking on this, Justine Fosh of the FDWIB said, “Wales has a thriving and successful food industry and that is to a large degree because of the people who work in it. It is vital we continue to attract people and promoting the industry is a joint responsibility; together the Board, the Welsh Government and employers can spread the message about just how vibrant we are as a sector and how diverse and fulfilling the jobs can be.
“It was a pleasure to judge this season’s Tasty Challenge and to see so many students take on industry roles developing and commercializing great Welsh products as part of the Tasty Challenge.”
Rebecca Falvey, Head of Programmes at BITC Cymru whose Business Class programme, funded by Welsh Government and delivered by Careers Wales, provided the structure for this activity said, “The Tasty Challenge is a fabulous example of collaborative Business Class cluster activity where students work closely with industry leaders to develop essential skills and gain an understanding of the local career opportunities available to them.”
Speaking on the importance of this collaboration to improve perception of the food and drink industry in Wales, James Hicks, strategic development manager for the NSAFD, said: “There are a number of misconceptions surrounding the career opportunities available across the Welsh food and drink industry. People assume that careers will be limited to farming or catering, but the industry offers a wealth of career options available to a variety of skillsets. The Tasty Challenge is a programme to encourage a greater knowledge of the opportunities available across the industry that people may have never considered before.”
The Challenge is available for school children of a variety of ages including those studying for the Welsh Baccalaureate at Key Stage 4.