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IGD's Technical Leadership Forum: giving students a taste of the food industry case study

Business sectior: food and technology
Location: The University of Reading and University of Nottingham 

Type of engagement

IGD’s Technical Leadership Forum is sponsoring two summer schools to give school students a unique opportunity to learn about food science and technology.

Students attending the summer school in NottinghamThe Technical Leadership Forum is a group of technical directors from major food companies, convened by IGD. The supply of skilled graduates to the food industry is a key concern for forum members, and the group wants to help ensure that science graduates continue to be attracted in to roles in the food sector.

The IGD Technical Leadership Forum sees the summer schools as invaluable in encouraging science students into the food industry, and is providing funding to help support both the Reading and Nottingham events for a period of three years.

Purpose of engagement and activities

The Universities of Reading and Nottingham have well-established reputations for excellence in food science. Reading has been running a food science summer school since 1987. The two-day course, which takes place each year at the end of June, is open primarily to Year 12 sixth formers who are studying sciences. Sixty students attended the course last year.

The University of Nottingham ran its first food science summer school in 2009. Students attending the Nottingham course are in Year 11 (15 – 16 years), and it is hoped that the experience will inspire them to choose A level subjects with a career in food science in mind. Last year’s event ran from 30th June to 2nd July, and over 100 applications were received for the 35 places on offer.

The summer schools provide a taste of what students can expect from university life, the skills they will learn on a food science or technology course, and how these are applied in food businesses.

Students stay in Halls of Residence on the University Campus, with social activities organised by current students. They learn about sensory science, flavour chemistry, texture creation and microbiological safety. Real, practical issues are addressed such as how to produce safe, appealing sandwiches on a commercial scale for a large retailer.

Attendees also hear from recent graduates already working in the food industry about their experiences, and visit local food manufacturing sites.

Results and benefits

The initiative is part of a long term strategy to ensure that a pool of future talent and industry recruits is created with schools, colleges and universities. In particular it aims to create an experience which will help to inspire:

  • science graduates to continue to be attracted to careers in the industry;
  • Year 11 students to choose A level subjects with a career in food science in mind.

Short term results are, inevitably, difficult to quantify but at the end of the two days students on each course will have experienced student life and discovered that the food industry offers exciting opportunities for budding scientists

As one pupil who attend the course commented

“The experience has given me a valuable insight of the industry. It has given me a greater understanding of the many potential jobs that I can apply for in the future.”

Find out more

The Technical Leadership Forum is a group of technical directors from major food companies, convened by IGD. Click here for further details.