Some of the UK's biggest food manufacturers have launched a new national campaign aimed at attracting young engineers into the industry.
The campaign, entitled Take a Closer Look at Food Engineering, will be primarily aimed at youngsters aged between 16 and 19, as well as parents, teachers and careers advisors.
It hopes to raise awareness of food engineering as a career, and the beneficial effects of the MEng Food Engineering degree at Sheffield Hallam University, which is backed by some of the main players in the industry.
This degree is the first of its kind to be offered to students in the UK. Previously, the industry recruited people from more generic engineering backgrounds, leading to extensive on-the-job training being required.
Starting this month, it will be launched and promoted through a variety of channels, including student advertising, e-newsletters, and social media.
The project is the result of a partnership between the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink, as well as Sheffield Hallam University itself.
Engineering is widely regarded as being a crucial part of the food and drink industry, as it increases both the automation and reliability of production plants, yet many experts feel there is a skills gap that needs to be addressed.
Angela Coleshill, director of employment and skills at the FDF, said: “Our industry's ability to drive innovation to achieve our ambition to grow 20 per cent by 2020 lies very much in the hands of our employees, particularly our future engineers. This is why businesses from across the industry have pledged their support and worked together to create the MEng Food Engineering degree at Sheffield Hallam University - the degree for our engineers of the future."
She added that the campaign would give the industry a unique opportunity to directly engage with youngsters, giving them a chance to gain an insight into how exciting it can be to work within the industry, and the career prospects open to them.