FDF calls for industry support to help solve chronic labour shortage

By Gill Hyslop

- Last updated on GMT

The Career Passport matches talent to opportunity. Pics: GettyImages/Dimitri Otis/happy lark
The Career Passport matches talent to opportunity. Pics: GettyImages/Dimitri Otis/happy lark

Related tags Food and drink federation labour shortages Recruitment Careers Passport Premier foods Greencore Pukka pies Accreditation

The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) and the National Skills Academy for Food & Drink (NSAFD) are asking producers of all sizes to back a Careers Passport initiative to accelerate recruitment in all sectors.

According to Caroline Keohane, head of Industry Growth, FDF, there are more than 500,000 vacancies open today across the UK’s farm-to-fork supply chain.

“We must fill these places with potential, by matching talent to opportunity in all corners of the country,” ​said Keohane.

Home-grown talent

“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.

“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.”

The scheme – set to be introduced later this spring in England and Wales – is designed to make it easier to find new recruits – especially those with Food Safety, HACCP, Health and Safety and Allergen Awareness accreditation.

It offers pre-entry accreditation to job hunters seeking entry-level roles. It also speeds up interview short-listing and job onboarding, saving time and money for business owners.

"The new Passport is proof that holders will arrive at an interview with core food manufacturing compliance certification,”​ said Louise Cairns, CEO of NSAFD.

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.”

Strong interest

Greencore, Premier Foods and Pukka Pies are among the companies that have already pledged their support for the Careers Passport.

Julie Harris, L&D business partner, Operations and Early Careers at Premier Foods, said, “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.”

The NSAFD tapped some of the UK’s leading employers to curate the subject matter to ensure the course content reflects the highest industry standards and most topical trends (NSAFD courses are already highly regarded and widely used, so dropping in an employability tool made sense). The Careers Passport will be carried out online, enabling 24/7 access from any location.

“The primary aim of the Passport is to boost committed new talent into the industry and cut down onboarding and induction time so new starters can quickly move forward to additional training or orientation specific to their role,”​ added Cairns.

“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.”

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