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UK food and drink industry pledges to help tackle national engineering shortage

A new food engineering degree will play its part in tackling the severe shortage of UK engineering graduates according to food and drink industry bosses and the sector skills council.

The pledge follows a Royal Academy of Engineering survey this week showing that there are too few STEM graduates to meet engineering need across all industries between 2012-2020 and that 100,000 new engineering graduates are needed to stop the UK slipping down international league tables.

The graduate scarcity is causing a hike in starting salaries for engineers while those for other disciplines are falling. Many firms are being forced to look overseas for suitably qualified recruits.

The food and drink industry has been planning the launch of the new engineering degree for about two years and its introduction is timely as all manufacturing sectors compete for highly talented individuals. The new degree will give the industry a strong position in being able to draw from graduates specifically trained in its workings.

“The shortage of engineers has caused intense competition between industries and is particularly important to food and drink businesses where engineering skills relevant to the sector are vital to drive growth and innovation in increasingly hi-tech automated production environments,” said Justine Fosh, executive director of the National Skills Academy for Food & Drink.

“That is why, together with the Food and Drink Federation and major industry players, we have successfully persuaded Government to share the cost with industry, through co-investment from the UKCES Employer Investment Fund, of launching a new degree course dedicated to food engineering at Sheffield Hallam University from 2014.

“Right now we are working with Sheffield Hallam and industry representatives to ensure eventual course content totally matches business need but there are many other ways food and drink businesses can help make a success of the new degree and we encourage them to come forward and make an offer of work placements and internships for students and even guaranteed jobs for eventual graduates of the course.

by S. C.
08 october 2012, World News > Europe

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