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Education and Training

  • 56,400 workers (14%) in the UK food and drink manufacturing sector have no qualifications; across the nations 13% of English, 22% of Scottish, 17% of Welsh, and 31% of Northern Irish sector.
  • 85,400 workers (21%) in the UK sector hold their highest qualification at Level 4 or above. A notably greater number than the previous year which was estimated at 72,700 (18%).

For the sector as a whole, the following three soft-skills are reported as lacking the most among 16-19 year olds: attitude; oral communication; and motivation/commitment. The main technical skills lacking are reported to be: food safety; health and safety; and food hygiene.

    Source: UK Labour Market Information Profile 2009/2010


    • The majority of UK food and drink sector businesses provide some type of training for staff, albeit primarily focusing on mandatory requirements of food safety and health and safety.
    • Two thirds of sector organisations arrange training (whether on the job, off the job, or both) for their employees.
    • Some companies offer accredited N/SVQ Food Manufacture qualifications, which tend to be at level 2 and address basic food and drink production skills.
    • In some case this extends to providing sector Apprenticeships. Others have decided to develop their own tailored training courses internally.
    • Employers prioritise competence over qualifications, and place greater reliance on the track-record of a training provider to deliver the needed skills, rather than trust in a particular qualification.
    • Technical, practical or job-specific skills are the skills most thought to need improving over the next 2-3 years, followed by IT skills and management skills.

    Source: UK Labour Market Information Profile 2009/2010 and The Business Benefits of Training in the Food and Drink manufacturing Sector 2008

    Higher education

    • There were 2,650 enrolments in the academic year 2006/2007 onto food and drink related courses in the UK. This is a decrease of 7% since 2005/06.
    • 55% of enrolments were for First Degree level courses, followed by Postgraduate Level (27%) and Other Undergraduate courses (18%).
    • When looking at the gender split across the number of enrolments on food and drink related courses in 2006/07, female enrolments account for 66% of all enrolments.
    • The most popular areas of study are Food Science (35%) and Food and Beverage (34%) courses with the majority of enrolments on these courses in the South East (34%) and the West Midlands (36%).
    • The top 5 occupation destinations for food and drink graduates are: Food and Drink Technologists (including Brewers), 20%; Quality Assurance Managers, 5%; Production, Works and Maintenance Managers, 5%; Chefs, Cooks, 5%; and General Office Assistants/Clerks not elsewhere classified, 5%.

    Source: Enrolments onto Food and Drink Higher education courses 2006/2007 and Destinations of Food and Drink Higher education leavers 2006/2007