UK Food and Drink sector to offer 400 job placements under Kickstart scheme

The UK’s Food and Drink sector is to offer a valuable boost to young people entering the industry, after a successful bid to offer 400 job placements for young people as part of the government’s £2 billion Kickstart scheme, writes Neill Barston.

It comes as the sector has faced renewed pressure amid the pandemic, with the industry operating at full stretch as an essential sector, with demand remaining high for many segments of food including snacks, confectionery and bakery ranges.

Under the scheme, which has been jointly led by the National Skills Academy for Food & Drink (NSAFD) and the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), those selected for the programme will receive real industry experience and a wage during their six-month job placement.

The government’s kickstart programme was launched last September, with ambitions of helping create 120,000 jobs for young people aged 16-24 across the UK economy, but as national media have reported, it has got off to a slower than expected rollout. According to latest departmental figures, under 2,000 posts had been created as of mid January, which the government has pledged will increase significantly.

Despite demonstrating resilience, the food and drink sector continues to be impacted this year, notably within the hospitality segment, as many businesses have remained closed during lockdown conditions that have left a huge economic impact on jobs for young people in particular.

As the organisers of the new sector initiative explained, participants who complete their placement will also receive a food and drink manufacturing ‘passport’ confirming their readiness to take up a job in the industry, along with an employability programme delivered by Youth Employment UK. It is hoped that many of Kickstart participants will be taken on as apprentices once they have completed their placements.

However, as the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, the food and drink industry continues to offer a hugely diverse range of jobs at all skill levels and has remained one of the few industries actively recruiting throughout the pandemic.

Minister for Employment Mims Davies MP said: “It’s great to see food and drink manufacturers rallying together to offer 400 young people vital opportunities to gain key industry experience and training through the Kickstart Scheme, boosting their longer term prospects.

“This demonstrates how our Plan for Jobs is helping people back into work and vitally supporting employers in high demand and key growth sectors to recruit, as we push to build back better and level up opportunity across the country.”

Furthermore, the Food and Drink Federation’s Ian Wright, added“Businesses across food and drink manufacturing are delighted to support the Kickstart scheme. It offers young people real pay and real workplace experiences. That combination offers an excellent way to kickstart their careers”

Louise Cairns, CEO at the NSAFD, added that the organisation is delighted to be supporting the food and drink sector in offering exciting and varied kick start placements to young people. She explained that the programme will offer young people an opportunity to experience key job placements with some of the UK biggest and best known food businesses and will also provide them with training, qualifications and mentoring to help them secure a future career in the sector.

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