Senior executives from some of the UK's leading food and drink manufacturers and retailers have met with Ruth Kelly, secretary of state for education and skills, to discuss ways of bridging the UK food and drink industry's skills shortfall.
Sainsbury CEO Justin King and Tesco group corporate and legal affairs director Lucy Neville-Rolfe were among top-level attendees at this week's meeting, which was held by Improve, the food and drink industry sector skills council.
The meeting addressed key issues such as improving students' employability and raising standards, as well as how to get young people excited about careers in food and drink.
Improve's new Young Apprenticeship programme, which is set to be launched in September and will give 14-year-old pupils the chance to gain valuable work experience in food and drink manufacturing, was a hot topic, as was Improve's new Green Card scheme, a recognised UK skills passport for the food and drink industry.
A spokeswoman for Improve said: "The meeting was a fantastic success. At its heart was the really strong message that employers are central to improving students' skills."