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Food and drink factory managers have faced a growing skills shortage for years, with an ageing workforce and tight supply of younger skilled workers. Now the situation is at crisis levels.

Over-reliance on migrant workers has been hit by immigration policy limiting the pool of EU recruits who can get UK visas. Staff have had to stay at home and self-isolate during the pandemic, including some essential to continued plant operations.

Lack of lorry drivers

The situation has been compounded by a continued lack of trained lorry drivers to distribute food and drink to trade customers.

Political action might offer long-term relief. Increased use of robotics is one answer, but many processors have already installed obvious equipment or struggle with budgets to invest. Complex robotic solutions also demand further skills and take time to integrate, test and bed in.

Operations managers must still meet increasing customer demand daily, so what can they do immediately to practically address the challenge and deliver targets? Three experts will offer vital advice in a free 60-minute webinar How to boost food manufacturing productivity in a skills crisis​. The event will be held on Thursday 9 September from 3pm to 4pm UK time and will incorporate a live Q&A session.

David Hamilton, Bakkavor

Speakers include David Hamilton, site engineering manager at Bakkavor’s UK pizza factory at Holbeach, who will tackle areas such as continuous improvement and developing robust maintenance and engineering plans. Holbeach is a 24/7 operation making 90 million pizza bases and 75 million finished pizzas a year.

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