On 31 October, partners took a seat at the roundtable at Melbourne Polytechnic in Preston, to discuss the future of the food and beverage industry. Attended by tertiary education partners and food and beverage businesses, the roundtable gave education and business the opportunity to discuss and prioritise issues.
Tertiary partners included:
- La Trobe University
- RMIT University
- Melbourne Polytechnic
- Kangan Institute.
The roundtable concept is an innovative forum that discusses trends and sets agendas for sustainable and innovative business practices.
Evidence has shown that relationships between food and beverage businesses and education are not strong. By fostering a deeper relationship between them there is greater opportunity to leverage innovation, research and development, and resources. The forum gave businesses the opportunity to update education partners on the issues businesses are facing.
Five key industry trends were defined at the beginning of the forum, highlighting technology’s contribution to progression:
- Experience economy – Consumers are expecting more from a product than just a product. Consumers want the product to be a complete experience that gets their attention.
- Supply unchained – Businesses are delivering a supply network that is more efficient and time sensitive for consumers.
- Better business – Consumers are showing more support to smaller independent brands.
- Youniverse – Social media is having an impact on the way consumers perceive and buy their food. Influence from strong social media campaigns is helping certain food types and brands trend.
- Coveni-tech – Consumers are demanding more convenient ways to consume food. Uber Eats is an example to the success of this conveni-tech trend.
Businesses were then divided into groups to discuss key areas they need help with. A big conversation point was student placements in businesses. Businesses highlighted the need for students who have the skill set to assist with a range of projects including sales, marketing and data analytics.
Food and beverage businesses are finding it difficult to recruit skilled graduates. After graduating, people are searching for employment in large tech organisations with greater reputations. The question businesses have is – how can we work together to attract good talent?
Under the Northern Industry Student Placement Program (NISPP), students are being placed to help solve business issues and introduce innovative practices. To assist with career readiness, students are gaining first-hand experience in food technology, data analytics and marketing and more through placements. Students are applying skills from their studies to assist businesses in these areas. This holds the potential for businesses to employ highly skilled graduates to continue working once the placement has finished.
Currently universities and TAFEs are receiving a large influx of international students seeking experience and employment in the industry. Education highlighted the benefits this holds for food and beverage in Australia because of exposure to potentially beneficial alternative practices. At the same time, businesses and education agreed that more needs to be done to entice quality local student interest.
Attendees also highlighted the importance of innovation, problems with regulatory compliance, need for skills set training rather than just formal courses, and growing opportunities in the health and wellness sector.
As the roundtable concluded, businesses were assured that NORTH Link and education partners will meet in the near future to develop actions in response to the priority issues raised. Following this, businesses will be notified of the proposed actions that will be implemented.