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Student debates skills gap in food manufacturing

Posted 7 April 2014

Michael during the debate

Harper Adams University student, Michael Rudge, joined a panel of industry experts to debate what the food manufacturing sector should do to plug the current skills gap.

21-year-old Michael is currently on placement working as a Process Technologist for global food company, Bakkavor. He was invited to take part in the Big Video Debate organised by Food Manufacture, which took place at the Foodex trade event at the NEC in Birmingham last month.

He was joined by Jon Poole, CEO of the Institute of Food Science and Technology (IFST); Justine Fosh, Chief Executive of the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink; and Derek Williams, Standard and Quality Director of FDQ. The debate was chaired by Mike Stones from Food Manufacture.

Michael, from Ross-on-Wye, studies BSc (Hons) Food and Consumer Studies and is a student ambassador at the university in Shropshire. He said: “The food and drink manufacturing industry needs to find more than 170,000 new recruits by 2020.

“In my opinion, the industry is invisible to students thinking about their future careers, despite the sector needing them for its survival.

“I was only by chance that I chose a degree in the subject, mainly because of my love of home cooking and the fact that I worked at a local farm shop. I had little advice from careers advisors about the varied careers available to me.

“Since starting study at Harper Adams, I have realised how dynamic the UK food industry is and have opened my eyes to the fantastic opportunities that lay before me.

“Seeing as most courses at the university involve 12 months working in industry, I am now gaining experience at Bakkavor that will prepare me for finding the right graduate role for me.”

Food Manufacture hosted four video debates during the Foodex show, including ‘Plugging the skills gap in food and drink manufacturing’ which Michael took part in.
Senior Lecturer in Food Innovation and Management, Anne Taylor, said: “We are very proud of Michael and his contribution to the Big Video Debate at Foodex.

“A daunting task for anyone, he represented his peers in an impressive manner and hope that the experience will prove valuable for his future.

“Well done to Michael for championing careers within the food and drink sector!”

Michael was part of The More Than Meat Pies student team which won the British heat of the Ecotrophelia: European Food Innovation Student Awards with its ready meal offal pie, aptly named A Hearty Meal.

Watch the debate here.

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