The predicted skills shortage in the rapidly-expanding chilled food manufacturing industry has prompted the Chilled Food Association (CFA) to take action by tackling the issue at classroom level, with a unique set of resources, developed by teachers and industry specialists.
Available online from today (12 September) www.chillededucation.org is a comprehensive set of lesson plans and supporting material for CFA members’ use with children aged 5 to 16. By bringing industry professionals and young inquiring minds together CFA hopes to inform, educate and inspire children in all areas of the dynamic and diverse chilled food sector.
The site also carries careers information including interviews with recent graduates now working in the chilled sector and more than 30 real job descriptions.
CFA members and teachers will also be able to use a range of free resources to make the lessons lively and informative. CFA is providing 10,000 fridge thermometers and 500 innovative Glo-Germ kits, which memorably illustrate the importance of proper hand washing, to light-hearted videos that make serious points about correct handling of chilled foods. And lessons will cover every aspect of chilled food production from new product development to packaging and marketing.
The resources for teachers also being launched today at www.data.org.uk/cfa have been developed by the Design and Technology Association; they will help get the lessons into schools across the UK through their UK-wide network of over 6,000 design and technology teachers.
CFA is also providing STEM Ambassadors, whose network of 28,000 volunteers from the science and technology industries work with young people, to inspire interest in the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths).
Kaarin Goodburn, CFA Secretary General is keen for as many schools as possible to benefit from Chilled Education: “The chilled food industry is the UK’s fastest growing retail food sector and so most likely to suffer from the shortage of food science graduates. We also know that young people’s perceptions of working in the food industry are not very positive, but their preconceptions around pay and working conditions are unfounded. By working with children from a young age we want to inspire them, spark their curiosity in food and show them how relevant and attractive the chilled food industry is. We believe our initiative will be a significant contribution to the governments Skills Action Plan for the Food Supply Chain.”
Alison Robertson, CFA Chairman and Technical Director of Daniels Chilled Foods believes Chilled Education will give young people a real insight into the industry: “I have first-hand experience of both the rewards and demands of this fast-moving industry. Currently one of the most pressing of those demands is in the recruitment of techncial staff where many posts are difficult to fill. So, as we look to create a sustainable future we need to get youngsters interested and engaged at an early age. By working with schools to bring the chilled food industry right into the classroom we aim to address this, and the fresh approach we are taking reflects both the dynamism of our sector and the great variety of chilled foods. I am looking forward to geting out there to meet and inspire our future chilled food professionals. Chilled Education has been well received by the industry, receiving the support of the Science Council, the Association for Science Education and the Institute of Food Science and Technology.”
Bob Martin of the Food Standards Agency said: “We welcome the launch of the Chilled Education website as a resource that can help people to understand what is involved in making chilled foods safely, as well as providing useful information about key food safety subjects.”
Chilled Education is part of CFA.
The lesson plans for teachers have been developed by CFA in partnership with the Design and Technology (D&T) Association, the professional association representing those involved in design and technology education and associated subject areas (www.data.org.uk/).
Chilled Education’s lesson plans were developed with InspireEducation