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 priorities issues.
Tertiary partners included:
- La Trobe University
- Melbourne Polytechnic
- Bendigo Kangan
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 stronger relationship between these two sectors, there is greater opportunity to leverage innovation, research, 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 technologies contribution to progression:
- Experience economy – Consumers are expecting more from a product than just a product. They want the product to be a complete experience that encapsulates their attention.
- Supply unchained – Businesses are delivering a supply network that is more efficient and time sensitive for the consumer.
- 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 are 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 collectively discuss key areas they need help with. A big point of conversation was student placements in business. Businesses highlighted the need for graduates who have the skill set to assist with not just processing, but also sales, marketing and data analytics.
Food and beverage businesses are finding it difficult to recruit skilled students. After graduating, students 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 help with career readiness, students are gaining first-hand experience in food technology, data analytics and marketing 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 we are seeing a large influx of international students seeking experience and employment into the industry. Education highlighted the benefits this holds for food and beverage in Australia due to the potentially beneficial alternative practices. At the same time, business and education agreed that more needs to be done to entice quality local student interest.
Attendees also highlighted the important of innovation; problems with regulatory compliance; need for skill 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, Melbourne’s North Food Group and the education partners will meet soon to develop actions to respond to the priority issues raised. Following this, businesses will be notified on the proposed actions that will be implemented.