Drive for more women managers –

Drive for more women managers Published:  05 December, 2006

WOMEN working in food and drink manufacturing are to be offered new training schemes to help more of them progress into management positions, as part of the government’s new Women and Work Programme.

Improve, the food and drink sector skills council, has been awarded £500,000 in public funding to subsidise training that will help 500 women employees achieve a management qualification within the next two years. Improve is one of the first five sector skills councils to secure funding to spearhead the programme, which aims to encourage women to pursue careers in traditionally male-dominated industries.

“Food and drink manufacturing has long been a male-dominated industry, especially at management level,” said Jack Matthews, chief executive of Improve. “Currently just 23 per cent of the sector’s managers are women. This project will equip women with the skills and knowledge to take on more senior roles, helping to increase their earning potential and further their career development.

“Boosting the number of women managers in food and drink will also help to change outdated perceptions that have in the past deterred many women from joining the sector. Highlighting the fact that there are plenty of opportunities for women to follow a rewarding career in food and drink will help attract more female recruits, which will in turn help to drive up the skills level of the entire workforce.”

Improve will work directly with 25 food and drink manufacturers, providing tailored training for existing female employees to help them achieve a management NVQ at level three, the equivalent to two A-levels. Pat O’Driscoll, chief executive of Northern Foods, which has agreed to participate in the project, commented: “This is a fantastic opportunity that will allow us to provide a number of our female workers with extra training at a reduced cost. The skills they learn will help them to climb the career ladder, allowing them to take on more senior positions.”

The project is also a response to the looming skills shortage at managerial level. The sector needs to recruit 38,000 new managers and supervisors between now and 2014 to replace those who leave and to fill vacant positions. Up-skilling existing employees by providing relevant training will help avoid this skills shortage. is published by Special Publications. Special Publications also publish FISHupdate magazine, Fish Farmer, the Fish Industry Yearbook, the Scottish Seafood Processors Federation Diary, the Fish Farmer Handbook and a range of wallplanners.