It’s a Prime Time for Training & Development in Food & Beverage Companies
No matter what part of the supply chain you serve as a food and beverage employer or employee, you can count on the following over the next six years:
- There will be significantly more jobs created in your field over the next 6 years.
- Turnover will continue as talent moves from one company to another. Top talent will be aggressively pursued by competitors and entry level workers will be enticed with education benefits, increased wages, and other incentives.
- High turnover will also be fueled by an improving economy. At the same time that consumer spending increases, many employees in food service will leave the industry to return to or seek jobs in other sectors. The fast pace, long hours, and high energy levels required in many food and beverage jobs aren’t for everyone.
- More education programs at colleges and universities will be offered and more workers will pursue degrees in Hospitality Management. Culinary school programs will also continue to grow.
Consumers will continue to demand high quality, competitive prices, superior service, convenience, time-saving options, and strong brands. Food and beverage industry employees will need to be responsive and capable of representing their companies well.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes the Occupational Outlook and Job Growth Forecast data each year. This compilation and analysis is handy for looking at the opportunities and threats on the horizon. If you’re interested in the BLS breakdown by job type, scroll down to the end of this article to see what’s in store for you.
The bottom line is that there will be more jobs and fewer people who are interested in filling them. Employers will have to get creative to attract and retain the talent needed to fill jobs at every level. Educated, experienced workers who commit to the industry will be in high demand. Employees who invest in their own development and demonstrate strong technical and people skills will have an edge.
It may be tempting for Food and Beverage people to become complacent, seeing this information as an assurance of job security. That would be a missed opportunity. Now is the prime time to invest your time and even money in your own development. Classes in food safety, hospitality, communication, a second language, new technology and the like will give you a competitive advantage and help you grow in your career. At a minimum, consider online resources and free networking opportunities so you establish yourself as an experienced professional and known talent.
It may also be tempting for Food and Beverage employers to expect and accept high levels of turnover. That, too, would be a missed opportunity. Now is the prime time to invest in training and development for your people. There is no better way to attract and retain top talent than to differentiate your business from the pack. Jason’s Deli is a fine example of a company that understands this. Their website showcases their commitment to people development, reading “we are truly in the people business. Our product happens to be food.’ Over the years, this statement has become very clear as we see what outstanding people can do for our company. From the dishwasher position to our chief operating officer, the professional development of the human being has been the key to our growth for more than 30 years.”
Employers – The training that will have the greatest impact is training for your managers and supervisors. Your front line workers decide whether to stay with your company or not based on how competent the management team is in setting expectations, communicating, managing performance, hiring, training, coaching and giving feedback. These are not skills that come naturally. They must be learned, practiced, and honed.
Employees – Look at the needs of your employer and others in the same field. What gap can you fill? Find a way to learn what others don’t seem to know. Specialize and stretch yourself so you become a valuable asset to your employer. Think about workplace processes and ways that time could be saved. Stand out in the crowd by going above and beyond punching a time clock. This includes making sure you are up to date on your current employers’ training and professional development programs. If your employer has invested in training programs, make sure you take advantage of their efforts wherever possible.
Here’s a breakdown of the anticipated job growth by job types (source bls.org):
- Overall employment in agriculture is expected to decrease by 1 percent in response to the rising cost of production, increased consolidation, and more imports of food. This includes jobs related to cultivating and breeding plants, breeding and raising livestock, and harvesting.
- Employment in food services is expected to grow by 7 percent, adding about 838,200 new jobs by 2018. Most of these jobs will be in food services and drinking places, reflecting an increase in the population and the convenience desired by consumers.
- Wholesale firms are consolidating rapidly. Even so, the number of jobs is expected to rise by 4 percent. Retail trade jobs are also expected to grow by 4 percent.
- The number of food preparation and serving jobs, part of the service occupations sector, will grow by a whopping 14 percent. This means over 1 million jobs will be added by 2018. The jobs for chefs, head cooks and food preparation and serving supervisors will increase by 6 percent.
- Jobs for caterers and food service operators are expected to grow 10 percent.
- Increased demand for processed food means that there will be more jobs for food processing workers. However, processing plant and distribution efficiencies will offset some of this growth, netting a 4 percent increase in the number of jobs.
There isn’t a single part of the food chain – fresh, packaged, manufactured, retail, wholesale, or food service that is not expected to grow. There is a need industry-wide for people to develop themselves and for companies to support development and training. It won’t be any easier to get started in six years when all this growth has already occurred. Give your company or yourself the competitive edge and get started now!
About the Author: Deb Calvert is President of People First Productivity Solutions. Calvert, who is based in the San Francisco Bay area, has worked as a trainer and consultant with numerous agriculture and produce companies across the United States and throughout the food producing world including Mexico, Chile, Australia, Portugal, Spain and the Netherlands.
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