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Number of jobs fall in food and drink manufacturing

By Ahmed ElAmin , 13-Aug-2007

The number of jobs in the UK's food and drink sector fell by 14 per cent from 2000 to 2005, reflecting the decline in the number of companies in the sector.

The details are contained in a new report by Improve, an agency charged with upgrading worker skills within the UK's food and drink manufacturing sector. The reports highlights the trends in the food and drink manufacturing workplace, and the demand for more skilled workers. The report found that UK food and drink manufacturers currently employ 425,000 people. The number represents a reduction of 68,000 positions in the six years to the end of 2005. During the same period, 1,300 manufacturing sites closed, representing a drop of 10 per cent. Currently there are 11,300 workplaces in the food and manufacturing sector, the report stated. About 66 per cent employ about one to 10 workers, 20 per cent employ between 11 to 49 workers, nine per cent from 50 to 199 and five per cent employ more than 200 workers. About 23 per cent of the employees work for meat and bakery manufacturers. Bakery accounts for the largest segment of workers, employing 27 per cent of the total workforce. Manufacturers of the wholesale of other foods account for another 18 per cent. The meat sector accounts for 18 per cent of the sector's employment rolls. The beverage sector accounts for about 9 per cent of the total. The industry is heavily dominated by male workers. Only about 32 per cent of the workforce is made up of females. About 23 per cent of female workers are employed part-time, compared with four per cent of male workers. Overall 10 per cent of the industry's workforce is employed part time. Overall, the UK's food and drink sector employs about 7 per cent of all manufacturing jobs in the country and generates about £73bn in revenues a year. London has the highest level of turnover within the food and drink manufacturing, accounting for £13bn of the total, followed by the east of England , which accounts for another £9.3bn. The Yorkshire and Humber food region accounts for £8.4bn of the total. The UK's food and drink industry has one of the most poorly qualified workforces in the UK, according to Improve. About 19 per cent of the sectors workforce has no qualifications, compared to the average of 11 per cent for the total UK workforce, according to a previous study by Improve. One third of staff in the processing sector have no qualifications at all. In addition there is a significant under-representation of females to males. Males make up two-thirds of the sector's workforce compared to the national average where males make up a little over a half of the entire UK workforce. Last year Improve created created an accredited system to help employers check the qualifications of potential employees. The "Green Card" system provides employees with a record of the accredited training they have taken in the industry. Improve was established in July 2004 by the Skills for Business Network and is sponsored by the UK's department for learning and skills.

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