News & Events

Ministers launch report on Future Skills Needs in the Food and Drink Sector

The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor TD, and the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, TD, today launched the 2017 Report on Future Skills Needs in the Food and Drink Sector. The report, prepared by the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs, assesses skills needs in the food and drink sector in Ireland and makes recommendations aimed at addressing any gaps that might currently exist.

Food Wise 2025, the ten year strategy for the agri food sector underlines the sector’s unique and special position within the Irish economy, and it illustrates the potential which exists for this sector to grow even further. It identifies people in the agri-food sector as key to the sector’s future success. Food Wise 2025 recommended that the Expert Group be asked to update a previous report from 2009 on Future Skills Needs in the Food and Drinks sector.

Minister Mitchell O’Connor stated: “The food and drink sector is our largest indigenous sector, employing 56,000 people directly, and the agri-food sector taken as a whole employs 173,000 people. And obviously, it is a particularly important sector for regional employment, which is a key priority for my Department.”

The Department of Jobs Enterprise and Innovation, and the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine, worked closely to update the report, and jointly hosted a Food and Drinks Skills Workshop in November last year.

Minister Creed stated “this proved a very useful format, with stakeholders from the food and beverage industry, trade unions and academics discussing the skills gaps and needs facing the industry and gathering practical ideas of how to address these issues”. The Minister continued “My Department hosted a similar event last week looking at skills gaps at farm level, and will report its conclusions to the High Level Implementation Committee”.

Minister Mitchell O’Connor stated: “The cooperation between our two Departments has been seamless, and a wide range of stakeholders from industry, public sector, academia and the unions have worked with us energetically throughout the project.”

The 2017 Report on Future Skills Needs in the Food and Drink Sector identifies twelve recommendations under the headings of: work-based learning; internships, mentoring and apprenticeships; languages and international selling; and coordination. These recommendations will be reported on a bi-annual basis.

Minister Mitchell O’Connor stated: “This report sets out twelve succinct recommendations to be carried out by a range of public and private sector actors. Working together, I believe we can achieve great things, and I would like to lend my support to all of those organisations and individuals who have agreed to take these recommendations forward.

Minister Creed explained that: “progress on the implementation of these recommendations will be presented to me as chair of the Food Wise 2025 High Level Implementation Committee (HLIC). These recommendations will help to ensure that the food industry attracts, retains and develops the right people with the right skills to achieve our Food Wise 2025 ambitions. In the context of Brexit, this is more important than ever.

Minister Mitchell O’Connor said: “The food and drink sector has great capacity for growth, but keeping a keen eye on skills needs and addressing them robustly, will be essential to underpin future success.”

Minister Creed concluded. “I believe that this type of positive engagement with all relevant stakeholders and State agencies is key to identifying and responding effectively to the issues facing the sector”.

The full report is available at 2017 Report on Future Skills Needs in the Food and Drink Sector




For more contact –

Press Office,

Department of Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation,

01 – 6312200


Note for Editors

The report contains the following recommendations:

Work-based Learning

  1. With a focus on numeracy, literacy and basic ICT skills, consider how best to make further on-the-job training and off-site courses more accessible, for example integrating literacy into specific course content. Designing targeted programmes for continuous learning of existing operatives within specific companies would allow for access to training courses while reducing impact on productivity. (Skillnets, SOLAS, ETBs, NALA, IBEC, ISME, Industry)
  2. Examine incentives in other countries for further supporting firms to increase their participation and investment in on-going training and skills development in the sector. (DJEI/DES, IBEC, ISME, Industry)
  3. Providers and industry to examine how best to develop middle-management training and succession planning approach for the sector. (Enterprise Ireland, Skillnets, Industry)

Internships, Mentoring & Apprenticeships

  1. Work placements should be part of all undergraduate degree courses as well as post graduate courses. They must have a structure with a “doing” element and feedback at the end of the internship. Agri-food and beverage companies need to link to higher and further education institutions, including through the relevant stakeholders, to take on participating students. (HEA, HEIs, IBEC, ISME, Industry, Regional Skills Fora)
  2. Industry and Education and Training providers to consider developing a two year mentorship programme for SMEs to enable the development of talent internally within agri-food companies. (EI, Skillnets, IBEC, ISME, Industry)
  3. Millennials: The food and drink sector to convene a millennials focus group in order to better understand how to attract and retain graduates in the sector. (Bord Bia, IBEC, UCD, Industry)
  4. Accelerate the delivery of apprenticeships and encourage more food and drink firms to join apprenticeship programmes. (Apprenticeship Council, SOLAS, ETBI, HEA, DES, Ibec, ISME, Industry)

Languages and International Selling

  1. Language ability and international selling need to be part of graduate formation for entering the sector; language development should start at primary and progress through to third level. (DES, Bord Bia, Regional Skills Fora)
  2. Examine how best to promote and support the industry for language training, and share good practice of on-site language development modules across occupations from operative to senior management. (DES, Bord Bia, IBEC, ISME, Industry)


  1. Convene an annual stakeholder forum of education and training providers and the food and beverage industry to consider a monitoring report on progress on addressing identified skill needs and to assess priorities and progress on delivery. (DAFM, DJEI, RSFs)
  2. Examine how best to establish a One Stop Shop website to provide information about training available for the sector. (DAFM)
  3. Monitor implementation of actions outlined in this Report and complete more a detailed assessment of supply and demand needs for the sector as part of the work of the EGFSN overall skills needs assessment and of the impacts of Brexit in due course. (EGFSN)