FMCG – Skills Shortage

After decades of living in the shadows of more visible manufacturing sectors, the food and drink industry is finally stepping into the limelight. Due to demand, food companies have the ability to grow at a fast rate, with the industry currently the UK’s biggest manufacturing sector.

The battle between supermarkets’ to drive consumer prices lower has increased pressures on food and drink manufacturers; however, 2016 also has tremendous opportunities for growth for the industry. According to The Food and Drink Report 2016, 65% of respondents anticipate growth through new product development.

This fast paced growth however, only increases the skills gap and it is apparent that recruitment is still a major challenge for many companies. 70% of those surveyed in The Food and Drink Report expressed difficulties in recruiting the skilled people they require. This is thought to be down to the food industry struggling to attract and retain qualified engineers and technicians at all levels, which has been blamed in part by engineers’ desire to work in more attractive sectors such as automotive or aerospace. The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) believe the skills gap can be put down to job loyalty where people stay in in their job for their whole careers. In the next five to ten years the industry will see a decrease in skilled people due to a large block of long-standing employees retiring.

The FMCG industry has always had a need for engineers and scientists and it is believed that the UK will need to find 109,000 engineers and technical and managerial level people by 2022 to fulfil the growing industry needs.

The FDF acknowledge this problem and have agreed action to help tackle the increasing skills shortage. “We have pledged a further increase in the number of apprenticeships in the food industry, from our previous target – a doubling by 2018 – to a trebling of the current number by 2022” explains Selga Speakman-Havard, Skills, Employment and Innovation Policy Manager at the FDF.

The skills shortage has also prompted new research centres, such as a National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering in Sheffield. These are all positive signs that the Government and industry bodies are recognising the importance of attracting bright young talent into the industry to help address the skills shortage.

At Stream, we help employers fill their challenging vacancies, by delivering bespoke and comprehensive recruitment campaigns as explained by Darren Pannell, Section Manager of the FMCG division at Stream;

This year we engaged with a local food company who were looking for a recruitment partner to support them through a significant period of growth over the coming year. We fully embedded ourselves into the company’s culture and growth plans and started a targeted recruitment campaign to recruit over 50 permanent employees.

The core challenge we faced was the scale of the project combined with a limited and competitive candidate pool. We developed a strategic recruitment plan to attract the next generation of managers through various advertising campaigns, including social media, targeted mailers, local radio and newspaper advertising. Aided by a cross functional project team, we are currently half way through the process with a strong talent pipeline for the next couple of months. By giving the project extensive media coverage and considering applications from alternative industries we have successfully met the project brief so far.

If you are currently looking for new talent to join your company, or you are looking for your next job, please contact a member of the FMCG division here at Stream.

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