Farm minister David Heath has pledged his support to a scheme to attract more young people into choosing careers in the food industry.

Mr Heath visited an Asda store in Belvedere, London, on Thursday (5 September) to back research and training charity IGD’s Feeding Britain’s Future – Skills for Work Month 2013.

He took part in a Feeding Britain’s Future Work Club held in-store and heard from some of Asda’s young colleagues about the skills needed to succeed in the industry.

Feeding Britain’s Future, led by IGD with the support of Jobcentre Plus, is the first initiative of its kind, giving young people access to farms, factories and stores, and first-hand knowledge of the skills needed for a career in the food industry or elsewhere.

More than 160 businesses are participating in 1,200 locations covering every region in the UK. The campaign will provide 15,000 skills training opportunities.

Mr Heath said: “The food and drink industry is an immensely important part of our economy, worth £96bn and nearly 4m jobs.

“If the food industry is to continue to thrive, it needs to attract employees with the right skills across a range of jobs from farming and manufacturing to retail and food service. Feeding Britain’s Future is an important initiative that will help to achieve this.

“It’s vitally important that we make the food industry a more attractive career choice for talented, entrepreneurial young people.”

As the UK’s largest private employment sector, providing more than 3.7m jobs, the industry is uniquely placed to offer young people the first step on their journey to a successful career.

Asda is holding more than 200 Work Clubs this month, including two at Asda Belvedere. The clubs aim to improve soft skills and the participants also go on a “behind the scenes” tour and hear from a colleague about their own journey into employment. They will see how the business is run and the wide range of careers available in the retail sector.

Young people from the local community will have the opportunity to participate in CV and interview practice skills with HR managers, helping them develop their employability skills and improve their chances of getting a job.

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