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Improve wins Europe-wide research project into food & drink business competitiveness and employment prospects

The research division of Improve, the skills council for the UK’s food and drink manufacturing sector, has won a major commission to provide insight into future job and business prospects for the sector across the European Union.

Improve’s research team, which has conducted a range of ground-breaking UK food sector research, will be revealing the outcome of the study at a conference of European food and drink business and trade union leaders in Brussels in September.                                                      

Improve’s research will anticipate the kind of skills, qualifications and competencies needed to gain employment and work effectively in the industry in 10 to 15 years time. The keynote address by Improve’s head of research Sukky Jassi will include a series of recommendations to the industry based on study results.

Food and drink is currently the largest industrial manufacturing sector across the EU’s 27 member states with a turnover of €1 trillion and employing over 4.2million people.

The labour market and competitiveness investigation by Improve, which will be supported by Italian economic and social research consultancy CERES, has been jointly commissioned by business group FoodDrinkEurope and trade unions within the European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism (EFFAT). The sponoring organisations are joint signatories to an agreement to launch Social Dialogue in the European Food and Drink industry under the auspices of the European Commission.

The study, already underway, is in line with a range of EU strategies for jobs and growth and will provide an economic analysis of the sector as well as a breakdown of workforce demographics.

Emerging workforce skill and competence needs will be identified, defined and mapped. Benchmarks will also be set for the skills needed to take on common roles to a professional level in both large companies and SMEs with the development of profiles for between 20 to 25 typical jobs within the EU food and drink industry.

 Improve will be compiling a compendium of good practice on measures to tackle employability and up-skilling as well as the analysis necessary to enable food and drink producers across the EU to take the rights steps to safeguard and enhance future sustainable employment and economic competitiveness.

 “The study has come about because businesses and trade unions right across Europe have recognised the need to ensure the food and drink industry is attractive to qualified job seekers,” said Improve’s Sukky Jassi.

 “The research will support a clear statement of needs when engaging with all parties involved in supporting qualification requirements while greater understanding of the EU labour market for the food and drink industry will serve to enhance its transparency, fluidity and overall effectiveness.”