Lurgan man spearheads group set to tackle job shortage in agri-food sector

Heather Smyth (2nd left) from Martys Baps, Lurgan and Lucy Smyth (2nd right) from Mr Bens, Lurgan are pictured at the launch of Harvesting Tomorrows Skills, a new collaborative  programme which aims to address the skills shortage across the food & drink sector. With Heather and Lucy are (from l-r): Harry Hamilton, Project Facilitator, NIFDA, Joanne McMullan, Invest NI, and Michael Bell, NIFDA.
Heather Smyth (2nd left) from Martys Baps, Lurgan and Lucy Smyth (2nd right) from Mr Bens, Lurgan are pictured at the launch of Harvesting Tomorrows Skills, a new collaborative programme which aims to address the skills shortage across the food & drink sector. With Heather and Lucy are (from l-r): Harry Hamilton, Project Facilitator, NIFDA, Joanne McMullan, Invest NI, and Michael Bell, NIFDA.
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A Lurgan man is spearheading a new collaborative network aimed at tackling the skills shortage within the food and drink sector.

Harvesting Tomorrow’s Skills (HTS), funded by Invest Northern Ireland, is a two-year programme which aims to help recruit an extra 15k people to the agri-food sector by 2020.

Invest NI has offered £169,400 to support the HTS network which, led by NI Food & Drink Association (NIFDA), is focussed on improving knowledge, addressing the skills gap and enhancing the sector’s career appeal to young people.

A recent survey showed 47% of employers said they were unable to recruit staff with the required level of skills, while 56% of school-leavers stated they were unaware of career opportunities in the sector.

Lurgan man Harry Hamilton is project facilitator said: “As NI’s biggest employer, the priority is to attract real talent to our food and drink sector. We need to develop a people pipeline across all levels and abilities which will ensure the sector’s long term viability.”