Partnership with the food and drink industry

Partnership with the food and drink industry

Food and drink is the UK's largest manufacturing sector and has an ambition to grow by 20 per cent by 2020. Key to this growth is the implementation of innovative engineering solutions, and a future supply of highly-qualified food and drink engineers to address the growing skills shortage.

"Sheffield Hallam University was successful in its bid and academics have worked with industry professionals, ranging from human resources to engineering."

In response to this, Sheffield Hallam University has been working in close partnership with the food and drink industry through the launch of two new, ground-breaking initiatives.

The UK's first accredited engineering degree at masters level dedicated entirely to the needs of the food and drink manufacturing sector

The National Skills Academy for Food and Drink and the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) sought an education institution with which to develop a new food engineering degree course that will train and develop the next generation of engineers and leaders.

Sheffield Hallam University was successful in its bid and academics have worked with industry professionals, ranging from human resources to engineering, through a variety of working groups to design the unique course - a four-year, full-time and master's level undergraduate programme - MEng Food Engineering.

Companies from across the industry such as Nestlé UK, Coca-Cola Enterprises, Mondelēz International, Arla Foods, Mars UK, McCain Foods, Premier Foods, Warburtons and PepsiCo UK have pledged support for the course, offering case study material, mentors, placements, guest lectures, factory site visits and exclusive graduate vacancies on completion of the course.

As a result of this industry support, each student will gain real industry knowledge to support their studies and invaluable hands-on training through 54 weeks of integrated, competitively-paid work placement with food and drink manufacturers; making them highly employable. In addition, UK and EU students joining the course in 2014 and 2015 are being offered a £2,500 bursary in their first year which has been funded by members of the FDF.

"Sheffield Hallam has become the pre-eminent university for the development of food and drink engineering graduates in the UK." Justine Fosh, CEO, NSA for Food and Drink

Sheffield Hallam has worked in close partnership with industry partners to promote the new course to school and college leavers, raising awareness of the career opportunities available in the industry and establishing a pipeline of recruitment. Partnership activities have included careers and skills events, school factory visits, University open days, digital advertising and much more.

The course launched in September 2014 with a cohort of 15 students and applications are now coming in for 2015 entry.

The industry continues to be involved in developing the course and ensuring the optimal student experience, and feedback has been extremely encouraging:

"Sheffield Hallam has become the pre-eminent university for the development of food and drink engineering graduates in the UK. The combination of dedicated resources and industry involvement from programme design to paid placements puts them in a league of their own."
Justine Fosh, Chief Executive Officer, National Skills Academy for Food and Drink

"This course comes after a three-year journey for PepsiCo UK and Ireland. Back then, we were really struggling to recruit high engineering talent to fill some of our roles. Our industry needs high-end talent to lead our engineering into the future. Enrolling on this course puts students in the shop window and this degree programme gives them the best chance of success in a competitive industry." 
Ian Rigby, Site Engineering Manager at PepsiCo UK and student mentor for the course.

Enquiries from industry and international markets have led to the development of two further food engineering programmes- a part-time BEng (Honours) Food Engineering and a MSc Food Manufacturing Engineering which is available on a full-time and part-time basis; both starting September 2015.

"The bid was successful in securing an award of £6.9million to fund the Centre which will support the food and drink industry."
The UK's first National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering

With support from the food and drink sector through the FDF's Competiveness Steering Group, the Faculty of Arts, Computing, Engineering and Sciences (ACES) bid in response to the Higher Education Funding Council for England Catalyst Fund call 'Higher education's contribution to economic growth'. They sought a financial award to fund the development of the UK's first National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering at the University which would respond to business-led demand.

The bid was successful in securing an award of £6.9million to fund the Centre which will support the food and drink industry by developing and implementing state of the art research and development facilities, providing cutting edge research and knowledge transfer and developing critical skills through staff development.

Through the FDF's Competitiveness Steering Group, led by Dame Fiona Kendrick CEO of Nestlé UK and Ireland, 40 companies pledged their support in a variety of ways. Additionally, an Industrial Advisory Board chaired by Gavin Darby, chief executive of Premier Foods, and a Centre of Excellence Management Board involving leaders from within the industry, are steering the development of the Centre's facilities and broader development.

"The new Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering at Sheffield Hallam is a fantastic example of how manufacturers, government and academics can collaborate to bridge the food industry's research gap. The shared vision and priorities that we have developed will make this world -class facility a focal point for research and innovation excellence for the UK's largest manufacturing sector." 
Melanie Leech, Director General at the FDF (2005 - 2014).

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