Blog article

Food graduate careers: MorePeople help the IFST to prepare graduates for the industry

For the seventh year running, recruitment specialist MorePeople have teamed up with the Institute of Food Science and Technology (IFST) to help food graduates find a career that is suited to them.

This year MorePeople - and a selection of key stakeholders - have helped the IFST created an online interactive tool that will be available to graduates from next year. It has been designed to help students identify and pursue careers in the food industry that are suited to their strengths. 

The tool can also be of great use to employers, helping them with recruitment selection, and for educators, to help ensure their courses reflect the needs of the food sector. 

Titled ‘Competencies for Food Graduate Careers’, the project was developed in collaboration with representatives from SMEs, retailers, manufacturers, research and development, and higher education institutions. According to the IFST, it aims to disseminate a competency framework tailored to typical technical careers pathways for graduates entering the food industry.

Why?
The initiative comes following last year's publication of the Wakeham Review, which brought the ability of higher education institutions to produce employable graduates for the agri-food sector into focus. Within the report, it was highlighted that higher education institutions and business need to make sure that graduates entering work have the right skills for the future.

Emma Weston, associate Professor at the Division of Food Sciences at the University of Nottingham, decided to respond to the challenge by initiating the Food Graduate Careers project. She wanted to explore what makes a ‘great graduate for the food industry’ and how educational providers can optimise the curricula to facilitate this.

She said: “At the University of Nottingham we are really passionate about developing the highest quality food sciences graduates to enter the UK food and drink industry. 

“This means more than just delivering excellent scientific education; students also need to have developed a wider set of competencies to enable them to be successful in their first graduate job.” 

Who’s involved? 
For many years, MorePeople have had a strong relationship with the IFST and have worked closely on initiatives such as the launch of the FoodStart website that provides businesses in the food sector with the opportunity to advertise work placements for free. MorePeople sponsored the website, becoming the only recruitment company to be part of the system that hopes to help students find work placements in the food sector.

In addition to this, MorePeople recruitment director Andrew Fitzmaurice has helped out at the University of Nottingham by delivering seminars as part of the ‘Personal and Professional Development’ module. Andrew has provided students with a practical insight into the sorts of things clients really value - over and above those hard-earned qualifications.

MorePeople proudly support the ‘Competencies for Food Graduate Careers’ project, along with other stakeholders including: Campden BRI, Fresh Cut Foods, Greencore, PepsiCo, Sainsbury’s, Warburtons, and the University of Nottingham, as well as Cardiff Metropolitan University and Queen’s University Belfast. 

Recruitment director Andrew Fitzmaurice commented: “We have had a strong relationship with the University of Nottingham/Sutton Bonington for a number of years and so when we were asked to participate in a research project to explore what makes a ‘great graduate for the food industry’ we of course said yes.

“Emma and everyone else involved has done a great job with their findings. It has been a really well thought out and comprehensive bit of research which I think, if picked up by the companies in the food industry, can make a real impact. Everyone seems to want great graduates but having consistency across what people say and what they mean is important. This research will help demystify the terminology and provide a consistent and relevant set of behaviours, knowledge and skills that may be desirable in a food science graduate.”

What’s included?
The tool comprises of a list of 48 elements that provide a consistent and relevant set of behaviours, knowledge and skills that may be desirable in a food science graduate. Before being made available to graduates, a list of 14 role types and associated definitions were also reviewed and ratified by the industry stakeholder group. 

Andrew Gardner, operations director at IFST, commented: “IFST is keen to support roll-out and promote adoption of the ‘competencies’ as they have an immediate relevance and should impact positively on the sector in terms of how universities shape food science degree programmes to meet the needs of the sector.” 

If you're interested in pursuing a career in the Fresh Food, Fresh Produce, Horticulture, Agriculture and Garden & Leisure sectors but could do with a little advice, feel free to email us on info@morepeople.co.uk or call 01780 480530 and have a chat about your CV and career with one of our sector specialists.