Now is the time to choose a career in food and drink

18 August 2022

The FDF's Innovation, Employment and Skills Policy Manager Mark Corbett talks about about careers in the food and drink industry to FE News. He highlights the opportunities working in the industry can provide as well as the diverse range of routes and roles within in it.


Today, thousands of young people across the UK will open an envelope hoping what’s inside will match the enormous hard work they have put in over the last few years. But it is important to remember that no matter the results you get, it will only shape the next period of your life, it will not define what career you have.

Much of the future is uncertain, but one thing that is guaranteed is everyone needs to eat. The food and drink industry is the largest manufacturing sector in the UK and employs nearly half a million people across every region of the country. We put our customers at the heart of everything we do but we can only make affordable, healthy and more sustainable food through our talented and passionate workforce.

When choosing a career in food and drink, you can at least be sure you’re joining one of the UK’s most innovative, diverse and resilient sectors. Right now we can offer excellent and exciting career prospects with some of your favourite brands, who are leading the way in innovation and delivering net zero commitments, all with competitive salaries.

Food and drink manufacturers offer many opportunities for individuals to upskill and progress in their careers. New jobs and careers are being created every day as the industry works towards a climate-smart future.

Engineers, data analysts and IT experts are needed for the increasingly automated and digitalised manufacturing processes that are supporting the industry’s aim to be net zero by 2040. Over recent years, food and drink has seen some of the highest growth in the use of robots within UK manufacturing.

The UK is a global leader when it comes to product innovation particularly in areas of healthier food and vegan food products. Food technologists are in high demand to develop these new foods and reformulate recipes ensuring they are safe and nutritious. While scientists are needed to develop more sustainable packaging and meet the challenge of reducing single-use plastics.

Many of our companies have offices or trade outside of the UK so there are great opportunities to travel the world. Jobs in marketing, logistics, human resources and finance are other key areas where food and drink can offer exciting and rewarding careers.

Not only are the jobs on offer varied and secure, pay is very competitive. According to a recent survey of our members, four out of five food and drink companies pay 90% of their employees above the minimum wage. The majority of roles are above the national average and some are significantly higher.

As diverse as the roles themselves are, so too are the routes into the industry.

Whether you prefer an academic route or a vocational route there will be jobs with excellent opportunities for progression. Apprenticeships are increasingly available and give many apprentices an opportunity to earn while in higher education, something they would never have previously considered.  

Significantly, this year marks the completion of the first T Level courses and it is also the first year where students can choose to study the T Level in Engineering, Manufacturing, Processing and Control and learn skills specific to food manufacturing.

Finally, best of luck to all those students receiving their A Level, T Level or Vocational and Technical Qualification results today. I hope this has given you some food for thought as you consider the next steps into your future career.

To find out more about the exciting careers food and drink can offer then visit

Mark Corbett is the Innovation, Employment and Skills Policy Manager at the Food and Drink Federation