More than 500 young, unemployed people joined IGD’s virtual work experience programme last week (01-05 February), to receive invaluable employability skills training amid a burgeoning unemployment crisis in the UK.

With young people disproportionately affected by the economic impact of COVID-19, IGD is working with the Department for Work and Pensions and some of the biggest companies in the food and consumer goods industry to scale up its work experience programme, running four virtual events in 2021. These will provide vital support and training in a bid to kickstart young peoples’ job search at a time they need it most.

Fiona Miller, Director of People Programmes at IGD, said: “In National Apprenticeship Week, there has never been a better time to focus on the employability skills that young people need to get their foot on the first rung of the career ladder. Furthermore, the Government’s recent whitepaper, Skills for Jobs, highlights the importance of engagement between employers and young people and our February work experience programme was supported by some incredible retailers and manufacturers in our industry. These passionate volunteers bring the industry to life and provide much-needed contact between professionals and young, unemployed people.

“Our industry has a huge amount of energy and enthusiasm for people development, and we are harnessing this to help equip young people with the capability and potential to thrive in the workplace. In this way we can build employability and workplace skills to create better opportunities and drive productivity.”

IGD’s week-long work experience programme develops essential employability skills and boosts confidence. Participants in the February programme heard from 18 industry professionals, ranging from CEO to apprentice (see notes to editors), providing unrivalled advice and insight into the world of work in food and consumer goods. Industry experts focused on specific topics including engineering, sales and marketing, sustainability, and technology, highlighting key areas where there are known skills gaps for the industry.

Fiona Miller added: “Our virtual work experience programme is a key part of our mission to train 25,000 young people by 2023, providing invaluable opportunities for participants to develop their employability and life skills. The feedback we get from young people – with 91% saying that the programme helped them to develop their understanding of the skills used in the world of work – coupled with anecdotal feedback from industry volunteers, highlights how much both groups value this experience and the tangible impact it has. Some 86% of participants told us they feel more confident about their employment prospects as a result of attending the programme. We’re very much looking forward to rolling out the programme throughout 2021 to reach as many young people as possible.”

A participant of IGD’s work experience week said: “The masterclasses were very informative and have given me the confidence to go forward with my job search. I was amazed to understand how many different roles there are in the food industry and have really developed my employability skills.”