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  • The majority of workers in the sector are described as ‘process, plant, and machine operatives’ (34%) and ‘elementary positions’ (15%). A further 15% are employed as ‘managers and senior officials’.
  • Skilled trades includes occupations such as butcher, baker, brewer, fish filleter and cake decorator.
  • The incidence of skills gaps is highest amongst process, plant and machine operatives, elementary occupations, and managers.
  • Job losses are expected to be concentrated within low and mid-skill level occupations,
  • including Skilled Trades and Operative roles.
  • Expanding numbers of high-skill level occupations are predicted, including Managers and Senior Officials and Professionals.
  • 44,000 high-skill level jobs are forecast to be needed between 2007-2017 and 54,000 low-skill level jobs.

Source: Improve AACS LMI report 2010, UK Labour Market Information Profile 2009/2010 and The Future of Food and Drink 2008

New and emerging occupations

Across the sector as a whole, recruitment issues are primarily in technical and skilled jobs, such as engineering, food scientists and technologists, quality assurance, bakers, millers, fish-filleters and smokehouse operators. New and emerging occupations include:

  • Operational Level Jobs – Production control operations increasingly include machinery maintenance activities. Operation roles increasingly include quality monitoring and reporting tasks.
  • First Line Management – Team leadership roles are now replacing supervisor roles within flat management structures.
  • Environmental Control and Sustainability Roles – These roles are now being developed at junior/middle management level.
  • Productivity and Improvements Roles – These are increasingly becoming important at junior/middle management levels.
  • Corporate, Social Responsibility Roles – Senior management level roles are increasingly linked to environmental and sustainability agendas.

Source: Improve AACS LMI report 2010

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The mean gross annual pay for the food and drink sector is £20,787, ranging from £28,028 in the milling and starches sub-sector, down to £14,976 in the oils and fats sub-sector.

The mean gross weekly pay for workers has increased in each region and nation, with the exception of pay for workers in London.

By sub-sector, mean gross weekly pay is:

  • Milling and starches £539
  • beverages £534
  • Manuf. Other food £530
  • Confectionery £478
  • Animal feeds £462
  • dairy £426
  • Meat £392
  • Fish £372
  • Fruit and vegetables £371
  • Oils and fats (suppressed to prevent disclosure)

Source: UK Labour Market Information Profile 2009/2010 and Manufacture of prepared animal feed Labour Market information profile 2009/10

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Occupational hard-to-fill vacancies and skill shortage vacancies

  • 13% of employers in the sector report vacancies, compared to 12% in all sectors.
  • 3% report hard-to-fill vacancies, compared to 3% in all sectors.
  • 3% report skill shortage vacancies, compared to 3% in all sectors.
  • The highest proportion of skills shortage vacancies are for skilled trades.
  • 23% of establishments report skills gaps, compared to 19% in all sectors
  • The proportion of staff described as lacking proficiency is 10%.

Skills gaps are highest for elementary, operatives and managers. Gaps are reported to be for oral communication, technical and practical skills, and problem-solving.

The impact of hard-to-fill vacancies is reported to be:

  • increased workload for other staff
  • delays developing new products
  • increased operating costs

Source: National Employer Skills Survey 2009 and Improve AACS LMI report 2010

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Occupational roles and sources of information

The Improve website careers page has information on different jobs in the sector, including: manufacturing operations manager; senior flavourist; site manager; food scientist; butchery supervisor; food safety technologist; machine operative; and meat process worker. Information on jobs in the sector includes: background information on job; typical week; skills; routes in the job and qualifications; training; salaries; and sector news. Individual case studies are also available on the Improve website.

A variety of key roles in the food and drink sector are identified by Prospects (graduate careers website) and detailed information is available. It should be noted that a different definition of the sector is used compared to Improve. Some selected examples include: food technologist; production manager. For information on the hospitality sector and possible roles go to the Prospects website.

The National Careers Service website also have detailed occupational profiles for some occupations in the Catering Services. These profiles include information on entry points, training, working environment, employment opportunities and expected annual salary.

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