The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) and the National Skills Academy for Food & Drink (NSAFD) are urging companies in the food and drinks sector to back their new Food and Drink Careers Passport, which is being introduced later this spring in England and Wales.
The new Careers Passport will make it easier for manufacturers of all sizes to recruit people for entry-level roles who have accreditation in Food Safety Level 2, HACCP Level 2, Health and Safety Level 2 and Allergens Awareness.
The passport should help eager and talented individuals enter the sector faster, speeding up interview shortlisting and onboarding, and allowing companies to save time and money overall, according to the FDF.
Louise Cairns, CEO of the NSAFD said: “The new Passport is proof that holders will arrive at interview with core food manufacturing compliance certification.
“All Passport holders have made a readily evident choice to seek a career in food and drink and have put the work in to prove it. They’re engaged and eager to start.”
Individuals will be able to obtain the necessary qualifications for the passport through NSAFD-led courses, which aim to reflect the highest industry standards, having been reviewed by leading employers and industry experts.
Head of Industry Growth at the Food and Drink Federation Caroline Keohane commented: “The food and drink industry has a long history of hiring a wide-ranging and diverse workforce at all skills levels and we need that to continue if we are to build a strong pipeline of home-grown talent and develop our next generation of engineers, food scientists, marketeers and leaders.
“With around 500,000 vacancies across our farm-to-fork supply chain, we must fill these places with potential, by matching talent to opportunity in all corners of the country. The Careers Passport is a practical, industry-led initiative to provide a means to accelerate recruitment in all communities – the next tool to levelling up the nation.”
Several food companies have already made support pledges for the Careers Passport, including Glanbia, Pukka Pies, Greencore, Premier Foods and Gressingham Foods.
Julie Harris, L&D Business Partner, Operations and Early Careers at Premier Foods added: “The new Passport scheme eases the path into new employment across all age groups. We see it as particularly relevant to engage with and encourage young talent and those from excluded groups into the sector. It provides exactly the kind of easily accessible, structured and supportive first step toward a worthwhile career that people want and appreciate.”
Once all the essential accreditations are obtained, job-hunters will be able to access the Careers Passport anytime and anywhere through an online database.
Cairns added: “Employers will be able to access a central database to check certifications in a couple of clicks – making shortlisting faster.
“There’s been strong interest in guaranteeing initial interviews to holders because of the value of attracting ready-certified staff but we think there’s a wide variety of beneficial ways employers can integrate the commitment and knowledge of Passport holders into their recruitment process.”
The UK has struggled with labour shortages over the past two years. According to EFRA, there were approximately 500,000 vacancies out of 4.1 million industry roles in 2021, which has put a lot of stress on the food and drink industry.
While improving support by increasing visa numbers is key, the organisation also stressed the importance of not relying on overseas workers, and increasing the number of British labourers in the industry.
Some of the areas hit hardest by labour shortages in the industry include meatpacking, poultry, food processing and crop picking.
More information on the upcoming Careers Passport can be found on www.fdcp.co.uk