So, did you know that in Ontario, food and beverage processing is the largest manufacturing employer in the province? Currently more than 125,000 people work in the sector, and the goal is to grow this number by 60,000 new jobs by 2020. Ontario currently has 140 college programs and 34 University courses to help prepare students for a career in food and beverage…and yet well performing and highly recognizable companies like Kellogg Canada, Maple Leaf Foods and Parmalat are finding that hiring the right talent for their organizations is difficult.
It was these facts and many other interesting tidbits that were presented at the Taste Your Future launch. Food and Beverage Ontario commissioned a survey by Hill & Knowlton Strategies (an Ontario based public sector consulting firm) to scope out current perceptions about employment in the food and beverage sector. They polled approx. 1,200 people between the ages of 14 and 60 over the course of a month and presented a summary of their findings at the launch. One of the major things they discovered was there isn’t much awareness of the broad range of opportunities in food and beverage and a lack of knowledge about the need for employees from every level of education. Also many respondents felt that the jobs available were low paying and lacked opportunities for advancement. Of course this isn’t true, but in the words of Lee Atwater, “Perception is reality”.
This isn’t news to FoodGrads and a major reason why we started this blog and our #MyFoodJobRocks campaign. We want to raise the profile of jobs in the food and beverage sector by word of mouth – with actual stories from real people who are thriving in the sector. Changing perceptions and raising awareness is the key to success.
Hill and Knowlton also identified that the best way of influencing people’s perceptions (particularly in the 25 – 34 year old range) was hearing from their peers. We loved hearing this news and will continue on our quest to build more awareness through social media to the array of opportunities out their for North America’s future food and beverage super stars!
What else could the industry do? Send us your comments. We’d love to hear from you.