Food manufacturers urged to back first bespoke degree

Top form: the UK’s first dedicated food and drink engineering degree will be launched next month

UK food and drink manufacturers are being urged to back the UK’s first accredited engineering degree dedicated to the needs of the food and drink manufacturing sector.

The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) and the National Skills Academy for Food & Drink (NSAFD) have invited companies to attend the launch event in Sheffield on Thursday February 7. Their invitation follows the selection of Sheffield Hallam University last July to offer the nation’s first dedicated food and drink engineering degree.

Premier Foods, United Biscuits and Warburtons

So far, student placements and guest lectures as part of the course have been pledged by: Associated British Food, Apetito, Arla Foods, Burton’s Biscuit Company, Cargill, Dalehead Foods, General Mills, Mars, McCain Foods, Mondelez, Nestlé, Pork Farms, Premier Foods, United Biscuits, Warburtons and the William Jackson Food Group.

The first students will begin their studies for a food and drink engineering degree at the university in September 2014. The graduates will form some of the 137,000 new employees the food and drink industry needs to recruit between 2007–2017.

Fiona Kendrick, Nestlé UK and Ireland ceo and chairman, will start the launch with an industry perspective on the value of engineering to the sector. Other speakers will be representatives from the graduate excellence partnership: Melanie Leech, FDF director general; Justine Fosh, ceo NSAFD; and Martin Howarth, head of engineering, Sheffield Hallam University.

Specialist engineers

Leech said: Graduate excellence will mark a major step forward for our industry by creating a pool of specialist engineers equipped to help us meet future challenges. I urge food and drink manufacturers across the country to pledge their support in any way they can, helping us attract the best talent and enabling us to achieve our joint vision with government to grow our sector by 20% by 2020.”

Fosh said the aim was to ensure food industry engineering gains the same standing as aerospace or automotive engineering among would-be graduates. “The shortage of engineers has caused intense competition between industries and is particularly important to food and drink businesses.”

Relevant engineering skills were vital to drive growth and innovation in increasingly hi-tech automated production environments, she added.

“The new degree puts the industry in a strong position to draw from graduates specifically trained in its workings,” said Fosh.

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