Boards. People & Skills Projects - 22 July 2016

Bid to boost food and drink manufacturing sector skills

Bakery Butt Foods – whose Managing Director David Williams is a D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership Board Member – is working with food and drink manufacturing sector leaders on a project to ‘plug’ the industry’s skills gaps.

The Nottingham-based company has joined brand names such as Mars and Premier Foods in backing a long-term project to develop skills in their sector. It is facing skills gaps in key technical and scientific areas, and has an ageing workforce, with an estimated 130,000 new employees needed nationally by 2024.

A report linked to the project – Unlocking Talent: The Key to Driving Food and Drink Productivityhas been released by The Food and Drink Federation (FDF), which details the priorities of the skills enhancing project over the next three three to five years. FDF is working with project partners in business, Government, universities, at the National Skills Academy for Food and Drink, and at the Careers and Enterprise Company to deliver the action plan. An online copy of the report can be read at

Priorities include increasing the quantity and quality of apprenticeships, improving engagement with schools, for the sector to collaborate more closely with higher and further education agencies, and to better showcase exciting career opportunities the industry offers.

Butt Foods’ MD David Williams is the D2N2 Board Lead for the D2N2 Growth Hub (he is pictured above speaking at the Growth Hub’s first aniversary event) – which helps businesses to grow through assistance with marketing and business strategy, and networking and accessing finance – and has been active in suporting D2N2’s work on boosting skills, to in turn grow the D2N2 LEP area economy.

Food and drink manufacturing is also one of the D2N2 LEP’s eight key sectors, with its own long-term action plan currently being taken forward, to grow the sector across Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire. More can be read on this at 

Commenting on this latest project, David said: “Butt Foods was honoured to play a role in this project, which is helping to ensure that productivity in the industry is boosted. I have worked over the last six months with FDF president Dame Fiona Kendrick, and the panel representing smaller companies and identifying what is holding them back from being more productive.”

He added: “Food and drink manufacturing productivity grew by 11% over the last five years, compared to 0.5% for the whole economy, but food and drink manufacturing is facing a talent shortage with over a third of its workforce due to retire by 2024, and insufficiently skilled candidates to fill these roles.”

Butt Foods is based at Lenton Industrial Estate, Nottingham, and supplies a range of naans, flatbreads, rolls and other speciality breads to the food service sector. The firm, which recently celebrated 25 years in business, increased its turnover from £1.6m in 2012 to £4.5m last year, as well as doubling its staff during the same period to more than 60.

For more on the work of the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership in growing the food and drink manufacturing key sector in its area see web link 

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