Food industry partnership to overcome skills shortage

Posted by Josette Dunn on 3rd November 2010

A growing need for more food science and technology graduates in Australia will be addressed by a landmark new partnership between The University of Queensland (UQ) and the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC).Under the industry-first, five year agreement, UQ will partner with AFGC to help overcome a national skills shortage in food science and technology roles following the appointment of the AFGC Chair in Food Science and Technology early next year.

AFGC Deputy Chief Executive Dr Geoffrey Annison said the $102 billion food and grocery manufacturing industry – which employs 288,000 Australians – needed more high calibre university graduates in technical-based roles.

“This exciting new partnership will attract talented students into food science and technology careers in the industry, which offers rewarding senior management roles in Research and Development, nutrition and product reformulation,” Dr Annison said.

“Innovation in the food and grocery manufacturing industry is critical for the future competitiveness of the sector as well as addressing a range of challenges including sustainability, food labelling, regulation and globalisation – it’s also about the never-ending role companies play in developing products which excite consumers and meet their modern-day needs across health, convenience and lifestyle”

Dr Annison said the education program foreshadowed a new era of building and strengthening relationships between universities and leading companies in the food and grocery manufacturing industry.

UQ Centre for Nutrition and Food Sciences Director, Professor Mike Gidley, said: “The University of Queensland will work to increase the quality and quantity of graduates entering the food manufacturing industry by providing more flexible and attractive courses.”

“This includes making food science available as a subject that can be taken up by students studying science and engineering. For example, UQ has recently introduced a Food Engineering minor as a choice within the Bachelor of Engineering degree,” Dr Gidley said.

“We will also establish an industry advisory committee to provide guidance on industry needs in relation to research and training.”

As part of the $300,000 per annum initiative, an industry-sponsored competitive scholarship scheme will be developed to lure students in food science and food engineering courses.