5 steps to addressing the skills shortage in the food & drink sector

The Jonathan Lee blog section is a great place to discover all the latest news and views on the
sectors we work with and the services we provide.

Dan Plimmer, lead consultant for FMCG and consumable durables at Jonathan Lee Recruitment, highlights key areas the sector needs to address if it is to tackle the current skills shortage.

According to the BBC, the skills shortage in UK food and drink manufacturing shows no sign of slowing down. While engineers are in short supply, there are positive steps a business can take to secure the best talent in this competitive market.


 1. Look at your existing workforce 

In the scramble to recruit new staff, it is easy to overlook the skill-sets within the existing workforce. Carrying out an organisational skills audit can highlight home-grown specialists and where training could future-proof your business.

For example, increased automation and adoption of Fourth Industrial Revolution concepts will lead the way to a new landscape of skills and jobs. With the right planning and a pro-development culture, employees could seize the opportunity to move into fulfilling new, previously non-existent jobs, while allowing the business to move forward.

2. Move swiftly

It is crucial for businesses to make decisions swiftly, especially when promising candidates present themselves. If a client hasn’t moved within 36 hours, then it’s likely that the candidate will have been snapped up elsewhere.

3. Consider transferable skills

Employers usually want a candidate with sector experience – by its nature the engineering industry has always taken this specialist approach, but there is definitely a crossover between sectors that employers could use to their advantage more frequently, particularly within advanced mechatronics, digital programming and ‘big data’ analysis. This approach has already seen success in other industries, such as automotive, which has thrived over the past few decades.

4. Take the blinkers off

Recruiting people from a diverse range of backgrounds, including SME, blue chip and corporate, will lend itself to a diverse range of skills, mind-sets, approaches and fresh ideas. Indeed, hiring just one person with an alternative way of tackling an issue can potentially have a profound impact on an organisation’s strategy, systems, processes or culture – transforming a business for the better.

5. Speak to an expert

Finding, attracting and retaining the right candidates in a competitive market is where the expertise of a specialist recruitment provider can really add value. There is not a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to talent acquisition and working with an expert consultant that really understands the specific needs of each individual company can offer significant process and time efficiencies. A technical consultant will also be able to offer clear and realistic market insight and competitor intelligence, whilst having access to the best networks and job boards to find the best available talent.


David Woakes, group business development manager, will present ‘Accessing skills for the future’ at the summit, next month. Using his 20 years’ experience in engineering and technical recruitment, he will highlight practical approaches for addressing the skills shortage, providing case studies of successful approaches and insight into how to develop a holistic approach to recruitment and skills planning. He will also address the additional pressures being evidenced in the market from ‘competitive’ sectors and the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

For more information about our FMCG team and to search for jobs please click here.

Contact Dan Plimmer
01384 446174


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