MPs are being asked to sign an Early Day Motion calling upon the Government to address skills shortages in the food sector and recognise the importance of the food supply sector in its policy making.
(L-R) David Linton, Managing Director of Fylde Fresh and Fabulous, and, for Lantra Trevor Phipps, Deputey Chair Jonathan Swift and CEO Peter Martin
Andrew George MP and sector skills councils Lantra, Improve Limited and Skillsmart Retail launched the EDM following a parliamentary reception addressing the issue last week.
Nearly 100 MPs, civil servants and industry leaders attended the event on the Terrace at the House of Commons.
Speaking at the event Minister of State for Agriculture and Food Jim Paice said: “It’s important we get the right skill set for today and also for tomorrow. I want to see this industry raise its profile as one with a huge economic impact; and as an industry of huge social importance.”
Speakers also included: Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones, the Black Farmer; Justin King, President of the IGD and Group Chief Executive Sainsbury's Supermarkets Ltd; Ross Warburton MBE, President of the Food and Drink Federation and Executive Director of Warburtons; and David Linton, Managing Director of Fylde Fresh and Fabulous.
Peter Martin is Chief Executive of Lantra the sector skills council for the land-based and environmental industries. He said; “Many policy makers emphasise industries such as manufacturing, IT and bio-technologies - they need to include the food supply industries as well.”
“We employ one-in-seven of the working population and we’re the largest manufacturing sector in the UK economy.”
“We need to make the argument for our place as a priority sector which is central to meeting the challenges of climate change and a growing global demand for food. All of this means we need highly-skilled people and we must take their training and development seriously.”
The EDM reads:
That this House notes that it is vital that the entire food supply chain has the skills and business efficiency to meet the demand for food security resulting from a rising global and domestic population and the effects of climate change; is concerned that the skills needs of the food production, processing, manufacturing and retailing industries are not being recognised; calls for the value placed on these industries by the Government to match the value of their contributions to the UK economy and food supply; and further calls for future Government food strategies to recognise the importance of the entire food supply network as well as the skills gaps and shortages which need to be addressed.
Liberal Democrat MP Andrew George who proposed the EDM said: "Food security, food traceability and food miles, not to mention food quality, are all high on the UK political agenda. We can only step up to the mark as a nation if we have the skills in the sector. Whilst priorities are being directed to university graduates, the essential skills required and vocational qualifications needed throughout the modern food supply network must not be overlooked".
Food – Can We Produce Enough?
Groceries Code Adjudicator Could Improve Food Business
SAC Gets Its Teeth Into Meat Eating Quality