from Paul Wilkinson, chairman, the Food and Drink Sector Skills Council, Green Street, London

Sir; Your leader concerning the future of the UK food and drink manufacturing sector was highly pertinent at this time in the industry’s development, but I was disappointed that you said nothing about what should be done to protect ourselves from competition.

I am much less gloomy about the prospects, but I do recognise that if we are to compete effectively then we need a world class workforce that is equipped with the skills to deliver real gains in productivity.

Put simply that is why we all need Improve Ltd, the sector skills council for food and drink. Our key role is to help ensure that employers can build the capabilities that they need and that the best talent is attracted into our industry. We also have to ensure that the education providers are making available the correct courses and qualifications that recognise achievement.

We expect to achieve our licence from the DfES by the beginning of June, which will then provide £4.5m to set up our organisation. The secretary of state will be launching the council at a meeting for the Top 100 companies on July 6 at the House of Commons, to which we will be inviting the senior human resources directors.

It is time that as a group we all got our act together or else your doomsday scenario may yet come to pass. Employers need to recognise their workforce is the most important asset they have and ensuring it has the capability to compete should be at the top of their list of priorities.