Food and grocery CEOs meet PM to tackle employability skills of young jobless

Grocery CEO roundtable with PM

Grocery CEO roundtable with PM

Industry leaders from across the UK’s food and grocery sector addressed the Prime Minister at a CEO roundtable this Thursday (11 September) to discuss how Feeding Britain’s Future is improving the employability skills of young people in the UK, and industry’s vital role in the campaign.

Prime Minister David Cameron said: “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. 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.

“We have already seen record drops in youth unemployment – and I am grateful for those involved with schemes like Feeding Britain’s Future which have provided opportunities for training, work experience and apprenticeships and led to real career progression for young people.”

Joanne Denney-Finch, chief executive, IGD, said: “Despite the economy showing some signs of improvement, there are still nearly a million young people in the UK that are not in education, employment or training. 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, which is exactly what Feeding Britain’s Future is all about. It brings together organisations throughout the supply chain all around the UK to invest in the future of young people and the workforce of the next generation.

“I am extremely proud that over 200 food and grocery organisations – large and small – are opening their doors to help young unemployed people through our Feeding Britain’s Future Skills for Work month. Collectively, these companies will be providing another 15,000 employability workshops this year, bringing the cumulative total to 40,000 since the start of the campaign. This is a real testament to the fantastic collaboration shown by the UK’s food and grocery industry.”

Now in its third year, the FBF campaign has provided over 25,000 opportunities for young unemployed people to attend employability master classes offering key skills such as CV writing, interview practice and how best to present themselves. A further 15,000 workshops are taking place across the country this month.

A new element to this year’s FBF campaign year saw food and grocery companies across the UK visiting schools in Nottingham to provide workshops for children aged 13 to 17. IGD’s ‘School Pilot’, masterminded by chief executive, Denney-Finch, aimed to show young people how they can transfer the knowledge they’ve learnt in schools and apply it into the workplace. It was also an opportunity for them to learn about the variety of jobs the industry has to offer.

  • Three quarters (75%) of young people that attended this year’s School Pilot felt their employability skills were improved
  • 79% felt more confident about their ability to get a job in the future having completed the session
  • The food and grocery industry is the UK’s biggest private sector employer – with 3.6m people, accounting for one in seven jobs

Following the Number 10 roundtable meeting, IGD announced a major expansion to its chool Pilot programme for 2015. Food and grocery companies will once again come together to provide workshops in six regions across the UK for at least 4,000 pupils – a tenfold increase on 2014.

Denney-Finch said: “I’m incredibly proud of the results from the School Pilot element of this year’s Feeding Britain’s Future campaign. I attended a session myself and was overwhelmed with the positive response from pupils on how much they felt their skills could be transferred into the workplace. Encouragingly, the young people were also inspired by the range of careers available in the industry, with 70% saying they would consider a role in the sector, compared to 46% before the session.

“Building on the success of this, we will be expanding the programme for 2015 to six regions across the UK. 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.”

John Comer at Greencore, a leading international producer of convenience foods, who took part in a FBF workshop in 2012 said: “I really cannot recommend these workshops enough. After being out of work for a while I was struggling with my confidence before I heard about Feeding Britain’s Future. I decided to go along to a workshop where I learnt how to write a decent CV that highlighted all the things I was good at. I also practiced job interview questions which I found really useful.

“I’d not really thought much about a job in the food and grocery industry before then and had no idea about all the different roles you can do. I’m now about to start my third year at Greencore and feel really excited about my future career.”