‘People are the key resource to the success of the agri-food sector’

People have been identified as a key resource to the future success of the agri-food sector in the 2017 Report on Future Skills Needs in the Food and Drink Sector.

The report was recently launched by the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, and the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor.

The 10-year strategy for the agri-food sector is said to underline the sector’s unique and special position within the Irish economy.

The strategy recommends that the expert group be asked to update a previous report from 2009 on Future Skills Needs in the Food and Drinks sector.

Department co-operation

Working alongside one another, both ministers’ departments jointly hosted a Food and Drinks Skills Workshop in November of last year.

This event proved a very useful format; with stakeholders from the food and beverage industry, trade unions and academics discussing the skills gaps and needs facing the industry, as well as gathering practical ideas of how to address these issues, Minister Creed said.

My Department hosted a similar event last week, looking at skills gaps at farm level, and will report its conclusions to the High Level Implementation Committee.

Meanwhile, the co-operation between the two departments has been seamless, Minister Mitchell O’Connor said.

A wide range of stakeholders from industry, the public sector, academia and the unions have worked with us energetically throughout the project, she added.

The 2017 Report Future Skills Needs in the Food and Drink Sector identifies 12 recommendations under the headings of coordination, internships and apprenticeships, on-the-job training and languages. These recommendations will be reported on a bi-annual basis.

“Progress on the implementation of these recommendations will be presented to me as chair of the Food Wise 2025 High Level Implementation Committee (HLIC).

These recommendations will help to ensure that the food industry attracts, retains and develops the right people with the right skills to achieve our Food Wise 2025 ambitions.

“In the context of Brexit, this is more important than ever,” she said.

This report sets out 12 recommendations to be carried out by a range of public and private sector actors, according to Minister Mitchell O’Connor.

“I believe that this type of positive engagement with all relevant stakeholders and State agencies is key to identifying and responding effectively to the issues facing the sector,” she added.