Recruiting and just as importantly retaining employees with the right skills is proving a problem in the UK baking sector, but the industry is working towards a solution.

The country's Federation of Bakers took the opportunity presented by its AGM yesterday [Wednesday] to highlight an initiative in partnership with the government and employers to improve the quality and availability of staff in the food and drink sector.

Paul Wilkinson, chairman of Improve Ltd., the prospective Food and Drink Sector Skills Council, informed attendees that finance for a major education programme would come from a £4.5m (US$7.9m) grant from the Sector Skills Development Agency, while employers would be contributing £1 for every £3 from Government. Commercial revenue will gradually grow as the Sector Skills Council develops a portfolio of training projects.

Given the increasing awareness of and concern about food safety, and the ever more stringent requirements of government regulations and retailers, attracting scientists into the food and drink sector is vital. Offering training via the Internet is one way in which Improve hopes to upgrade and coordinate the training and provision of labour in the industry. It is calling for the support of employers throughout the food sector.

To view Catherine's blog comments on her day at the AGM, click here.