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Food and drink industry to select UK university to create first dedicated food & drink engineering

Universities are being invited to compete to partner the UK food and drink industry in developing a dedicated new food and drink engineering degree designed to produce a ready flow of graduates with in-demand food and drink engineering skills.

The successful university will become the UK’s centre of excellence for food and drink engineering and help promote the discipline as a distinct profession with the same standing and career appeal as advanced aerospace, automotive or energy engineering.

Higher Education representatives from around the country are being invited to a special briefing at the Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) in London on April 19 where they will hear more detail of the opportunity which is being driven by the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) alongside Improve, the skills council for food and drink manufacturing, and its sister organisation, the National Skills Academy for Food & Drink.

“We’re looking to select one university to work with ourselves and the National Skills Academy for Food & Drink to develop a degree that supports our Graduate Ambition programme of attracting top class young talent qualified to meet the specific needs of our sector,” said FDF’s HR Director Angela Coleshill.

Universities seeking more details of the Graduate Ambition event at the BIS Conference Centre, 1 Victoria Street, London SW1H 0ET should email amy.laverack@improveltd.co.uk

University delegates will hear that food and drink manufacturing and processing is now the UK’s single largest manufacturing sector with annual turnover of £76billion and heavy demand for specialist food and drink engineers due to increased use of high-tech automated production techniques and constant marketplace demand for product innovation.

Yet with no specialist degree available in food and drink engineering, general engineering graduate recruits currently take a considerable time to learn and adapt to food and drink industry engineering requirements around such things as hygiene, food and drink supply chain integration, sustainability, lean processes and design for maintenance.

The new food and drink engineering degree course will produce a “new breed” of specialist food and drink engineers who are not only conversant with leading edge food and drink manufacturing technology but also the scientific aspects of food and drink production. The project has received wide industry backing – including major names such as Nestlé, Mars and Kraft Foods.

“A similar centre of educational excellence has already been successfully created for the UK’s dairy sector thanks to the efforts of Improve, the National Skills Academy for Food & Drink and leading industry players,” said Improve chief executive Jack Matthews.

“However, a university-based centre for food and drink engineering won’t be serving a single sector but setting standards for the entire UK industry. We’re looking for a university partner that understands the contribution of high-level engineering knowledge to modern food and drink manufacturing and shares our vision of promoting food and drink engineering as both a discipline and a profession in its own right.”

The UK food and drink industry is launching the initiative in response to increasing competition with other industries for the relatively small pool of graduates with high quality engineering degrees and the lack of a degree pathway encompassing the specific needs of food and drink manufacturing.

Faced with competition for high-flyers, a dwindling graduate demographic over the next decade and potential falls in student numbers due to tuition fees, food and drink manufacturers are ready to serve up a highly attractive graduate career ladder with their eventual university partner.

“At a time of rising tuition fees and employment uncertainly, we’re looking to make the most of firm food industry commitment to support food and drink engineering undergraduates in very tangible ways through a combination of internships, work placements and full-time employment guarantees,” said Justine Fosh of the National Skills Academy for Food & Drink

“Today’s food and drink manufacturing industry represents an exciting, rewarding and smart career choice for graduates with the right knowledge and skills. Recession has taken the shine off many other industries but food and drink manufacturing remains a recession-resistant growth industry offering good graduate starting salaries, job security, career progression and the prospect of working for some of Britain’s best known companies and most famous and familiar consumer brands.”

Universities seeking more details of the April 19 Graduate Ambition event at the BIS Conference Centre, 1 Victoria Street, London SW1H 0ET should email amy.laverack@improveltd.co.uk call 0845-644-0558.

by S. C.
11 april 2012, World News > Europe

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