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Careers Passport launched to encourage young jobseekers into the food and drink manufacturing sector

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4 min read
AUTHOR: Fiona Holland
Female engineer in white lab coat and plastic cap taking notes standing near heavy machinery

Young job hunters can now access the Food and Drink Industry Careers Passport, following its official launch at the House of Commons.

Developed by the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink (NSAFD), the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), and other major manufacturing businesses, the passport aims to provide jobseekers with the knowledge they need to work in the UK food and drink manufacturing industry.

It should help the sector recruit more entry-level candidates with essential accreditation in Food Safety Level 2, HACCP Level 2, Health and Safety Level 2 and Allergens Awareness.

Accessible via online courses, the passport aims to speed up the interview selection and onboarding process which otherwise uses up a lot of time and money, according to the FDF.

More than 50 food and drink companies have pledged their support for the new scheme, including Mars, Britvic, Coca Cola, and smaller brands like Geary’s Craft Bakers and Mona Dairy.

Head of Early Careers and Apprenticeships at Coca Cola, Sharon Blyfield said: “The introduction of the Food & Drink Careers Passport has allowed us to provide better insight for those starting a career in the industry. To-date, not have we only used it with our Kickstarters but also for those joining our graduate programme.

“During the next 12 months we will look to expand this opportunity to our apprentices. Anyone who has had the opportunity to go through the modules of the passport, will have a head start when they apply and join an organisation in this sector.”

The passport launch comes at a time of chronic labour shortages, with some manufacturers having over 500 live vacancies at any one time, NSAFD Non-executive Director Peter Booth noted at the launch event.  

NSAFD CEO Louise Cairns added: “We moved quickly to develop this passport into a real employability tool and we now have almost 60 businesses not only pledging to recognise it as currency for recruitment but also guaranteeing an interview for an appropriate role to anyone that arrives on their doorstep with it”.

Chief Executive of the FDF, Karen Betts also said: “The UK has a brilliant food and drink manufacturing sector, with companies and sites in every region across the country. We’re the lifeblood of communities, employing almost 500,000 people who make the fantastic range of food and drink that everyone, everywhere across the UK, can enjoy.

“But our sector faces challenging labour shortages, across a wide range of roles at every level. The Careers Passport is an essential part of the solution, building a pipeline of homegrown talent that will benefit our industry for years to come.

The passport initiative was created alongside the NSAFD and FDF’s development of the additional “wrap around” programme for young jobseekers on paid placement in the food and drinks industry.

A part of the Government’s recent Kickstart scheme aiming to rebuild the UK economy, all participants who complete their placement through the wrap around scheme can access the Careers Passport, confirming their suitability to work in the sector.

The ‘passport’ employment support model has already taken off in Wales, where the Welsh Government is funding a comprehensive nationwide pilot of the scheme. It has already seen nearly 500 jobseekers enrol in associated online study, and is also being tested out at all six prisons in the country as a pre-release route to sustainable employment.

The pilot intends to be brought in across England and elsewhere in Wales with help of the Welsh Government and the Department for Work and Pensions.

At the launch, Louise Cairns encouraged all businesses in the industry to make “the pledge” to support the Careers Passport and recognise how it can encourage “an ever-wider pool of pre-accredited candidates for entry-level roles while promoting industry employment opportunity to eager talent.”

Though it isn’t obligatory, companies can also donate Careers Passports to those who are keen to enter the sector but might not be able to afford it. During the event, Occupational Awards Limited’s CEO, Jan Richardson-Wilde announced a £7,500 donation from the company to help 100 job hunters enter the sector, who may be unable to fund study or do not have the support of an employability scheme.

Richardson-Wilde said: “We want the food and drink industry to have excellent progression routes supported by high quality training and qualification packages, to enable smooth progression onto apprenticeships and other higher level courses… opening the door for your future talent and leaders of tomorrow.”

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