Making Connections

New links for business and education

Published 5 Sep 2008
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Secondary schools and employers in the North East's £1.4 billion food and drink manufacturing industry are being encouraged to form stronger links through a work experience teaching programme being launched by the industry's skills council.

The Food and Drink Schools Challenge is a free, self-contained teaching programme on interactive CD ROM. It aims to introduce pupils to the world of food and drink manufacturing, which employs more than 15,000 people in North East. It also aims to help employers make an early contribution to tackling the growing recruitment problem faced by the sector because of higher technology demanding higher skills.

David Hickman, North East operations manager for Improve, the food and drink sector skills council, said: "The idea is to make the challenge easily accessible to all secondary schools, and deliverable within school resources. But to enhance the learning experience, we recommend schools and food and drink manufacturers to work together on the challenge, either to have the pupils' work assessed by the professionals, or perhaps to allow for an inspirational factory visit at the start of the challenge.

"We are certainly calling on the employers at the North East's 400 food and drink manufacturing workplaces to get involved. The more that do, the better will be the learning experience in schools, and the better will be the chances of interesting more bright young people in considering a career in food and drink manufacturing, at all kinds of levels and in all kinds of business disciplines."

The Food and Drink Schools Challenge enables small teams of pupils to work through a six-stage process of designing a new product, manufacturing it, designing and making the packaging, working out the costs and selling price, planning a marketing campaign, and presenting their results at a trade fair.

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