Building our future workforce for the food & drink manufacturing sector

Building our future workforce for the food & drink manufacturing sector

28 Apr 2021

From brewers to bakers the Food and Drink manufacturing sector has shown great resilience throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. It remains the UK’s largest manufacturing sector contributing £28.2 billion annually to the national economy. Here in the West Midlands 16,000 people are employed across a variety of businesses but the bounce back from the last 12 months needs a new injection of skills training.

Behind the army of ‘frontline foodies’ is a skills shortage in research and development, engineering and technical roles. This has been heightened by the pandemic and changing rules following the EU Exit. As the country looks to adapt and adjust to the challenges presented over the last 12 months, it is vital we create a pipeline of skills training to meet the needs of the Food and Drink Manufacturing industry.

GBSLEP is playing a primary role in helping businesses to plan for a future workforce. As the Food and Drink Manufacturing Sector lead for the West Midlands Local Industrial Strategy we are connecting businesses with training providers, to identify what skills are needed through the GBSLEP Skills and Apprenticeship Hub.  For the current workforce this is about creating opportunities for acquiring new skills and for the future workforce this is a targeted way of getting the right training to meet the needs of the sector.

We are also working with business leaders to inspire the next generation of people into the vast range of roles on offer in the sector. Much of this is being done through our virtual work experience programme with education charity Speakers for Schools – a great way to ‘give back’.

Economic recovery will depend on all of us coming together and playing our part. Now is the time for your business to help. The multiple benefits of supporting skills training and a local pipeline of future food makers, in all their forms, will ensure the sector continues to thrive and grow.

- Prof. Helen Higson OBE, Chair of the GBSLEP Employment and Skills Board
To find out how you and your business can help fill the skills gap get in touch with the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Skills Hub or email contact Ellen Peacock (, Senior Policy Officer and GBSLEP and lead for the Food and Drink Manufacturing Sector