CIPD: Chief executives of some of the UK’s largest employers in the food and grocery industry attended a roundtable at number 10 yesterday (11 September) to discuss what the sector is doing to help address the poor employability skills of young unemployed people in the UK.
Mike Coupe from Sainsbury’s, Dalton Philips from Morrisons, Fiona Dawson of Mars and Nestle’s chief executive Fiona Kendrick, were among the attendees to discuss the progress of the ‘Feeding Britain’s Future’ (FTF) initiative, spearheaded by research and training company IGD.
More than 200 companies have already signed up to the campaign, which runs in partnership with JobCentre Plus, to offer young people free pre-employment training and insight into the variety of careers available in the food and grocery sector.
As part of the programme, young unemployed people receive employability master classes including training on CV writing, interview practice and advice on how best to present themselves, which Joanne Denney-Finch, chief executive of IGD said was vital in today’s labour market.
“In such a tough marketplace, today’s young unemployed need all the help and support they can get. We can’t expect them to play the game if nobody explains the rules,” she said.
The food and grocery industry is the UK’s biggest private sector employer with 3.6 million people, accounting for 13 per cent of the UK’s employment market.
According to industry figures, an extra 137,000 new employees are needed by 2017 in the food and drink manufacturing industry alone.
Prime minister David Cameron said the UK’s grocery retailers had a key role to play in helping tackle youth unemployment and the FTF campaign had already led to real career progression for thousands of young people in the UK.
“I want to make sure young people know what opportunities are out there for them, so they can develop the skills they need to get themselves into good jobs and earn a living,” he said.
“It is part of the government’s long-term economic plan to make sure the next generation can achieve their full potential and secure a better and brighter future for themselves and for Britain.”
Now in its third year, the FTF initiative has provided more than 25,000 skills classes and a further 15,000 workshops are being rolled out across the country this month.This year the campaign was extended to include children of 13 to 17 years old.
The ‘School Pilot’, which was rolled out to schools across Nottingham, aimed to show young people how to transfer the knowledge learned at school to the workplace. Following its success, the programme will be introduced into six more regions across the UK in 2015.
Denney-Finch added: “We are planning to reach at least 4,000 pupils next year to share our insights about the industry and equip the next generation with the skills they need to find work.”