The launch of the Food 4.0 Hub this week highlighted the challenges faced by the industry. Whilst it is widely believed to be the largest employer in the country, it still struggles to attract the kind of talent it needs to thrive in the future.
Indeed, it emerged that the sector currently languishes outside of the top 20 in terms of industries young people would like to work in. In short, it faces a perception problem in convincing young people that their skills have a valuable home in the food sector.
Opening eyes to food
Things like better work experience and school visits were muted as ways to highlight the potential careers in food to young people, but a more modern option has recently been launched by the University of Reading.
They have recently opened their Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on the Future Learn platform. The MOOC, called Our Hungry Planet: Agriculture, People and Food Security, sees academics and experts from the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development explore the relationship between agriculture and the way we eat.
The course takes students around the world, exploring the various challenges involved in growing crops and managing livestock in the various continents. The course will ask:
- What are the key issues facing producers and consumers of food, and how do they compare?
- What factors influence the way we grow, process, package, transport and consume food?
- How does agriculture – and its wide-ranging impacts in these different regions – relate to us?
- And how does the food we grow, buy, eat and throw away relate to global food security issues?
The six week course will also involve various activities that allow students to reflect on their own food habits, including a weekly food diary that will allow you to keep track of what you buy, and what you waste.
The course is designed to feed into courses offered by the University of Reading, and will hopefully provide you with a taster of how a career in food could be palatble to you.