A WELSH Government-backed campaign has supported more than 100 people to secure employment in the Welsh food and drink sector during its three-month pilot.
The Welsh food and drink exports hit a record high in 2021 reaching £641m. Wales also had the largest percentage increase in the value of food and drink exports out of the four UK nations between 2020 and 2021 rising by £89 million, a growth of 16.1%.
The Food Workforce Wales campaign was launched earlier this year to encourage people to consider a career in Wales’ food and drink industry and showcase the exciting and varied career opportunities the industry has to offer.
Its success in supporting people to find employment has now seen the scheme extended until the end of November.
Working closely with businesses, the campaign has targeted a wide talent pool, from recent school leavers and college or university graduates, through to those who want a career change. A new online jobs notice board was launched listing a host of vacancies which existed within the industry.
Now entering a new phase following its successful introduction, the project is leading the Food & Drinks Careers Hub 2022 at the Royal Welsh Show. Featuring a host of partners and inspirational career discussions, the hub aims to equip all age groups with the means and ways to decide, plan and compete for opportunities in the industry.
The Welsh Government now wants to build on the successful three-month pilot phase and help more people secure jobs in the food and drink industry.
Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd, Lesley Griffiths who will be visiting the Food and Drinks Careers Hub today said:
“I am very pleased the Food Workforce Wales campaign has helped more than 100 people secure jobs in our food and drink industry – this could be seen as seeing at least one person into a job for every day of the three-month pilot scheme. We are extending the scheme with the aim of helping more individuals into the sector.
It is great to see businesses speaking with such passion about the careers on offer and the hub at the Royal Welsh Show is key in helping people find out more about the diverse, exciting and rewarding roles and opportunities available.”
From humble beginnings, Peter’s Food has grown to one of Wales’s largest employers and one of the largest cold meat distributors in the UK. As one of the businesses who have engaged with the project, Training Officer, Deborah Jones, said:
“There’s lots of job opportunities within Peter’s, such as production, meat room and there’s office jobs.
So investing in our employees is really important. It makes them more confident in their roles and they feel more valued, because they are able to progress and gain further knowledge.”
Meanwhile, Avara Foods is one of several Welsh food and drink manufacturers who offer a range of skilled apprenticeships. First year engineering apprentice Andrew added:
“Avara have been brilliant in helping me facilitate getting back into college for retraining and getting up to the skill level required to be a multi-skilled engineer.
I was attracted to the food industry because the skills training is second to none. I enjoy the variety of machinery that we get to work on here and we’re currently undergoing some upgrades so there’s opportunities to work with robotics, electrics and mechanical engineering.”
Wales’ food and drink industry is booming and not only putting food on the nation’s table, but also firmly placing Wales on the global stage with its world leading produce.