from Steve Latham, senior lecturer, Harper Adams University College, Newport, Shropshire

Sir; Thank you The Seafood Company’s Allen Townsend (The Grocer, July 17, p30) for pinpointing the shortage of good quality people entering the food industry.

Harper Adams University College is focused on providing courses on the land, food and leisure-based industries. Food courses attract few students in spite of excellent placements and prospects.

At our Higher Education Choices convention there were 300 students assembled.

When food technology was announced, just two students departed with a lecturer.

Next month our college is hosting its annual Landlords’ Conference. The sector has many operators dealing with executive properties, yet the image, which annoys the delegates, is of Leonard Rossiter in Rising Damp. Likewise the food industry struggles with influential figures expressing disparaging comments about working in McDonald’s or stacking shelves in Sainsbury.

I suggest we urge all sectors of the food industry to encourage students to view it positively. We should also offer scholarships to those who wish to pursue a food-related course at university.

Several of our students pursuing agricultural engineering have gained a scholarship from JCB.

Debt levels will be an increasing factor in students’ minds. Our food-related courses have a work experience year as part of the programme. This is an opportunity to reduce debts.

Combined with excellent earnings from summer vacations working in the fresh produce sector, many students leave our college with little or no debt.

Furthermore, research indicates salary levels of students entering the industry are higher than most other sectors and will continue to be.

The food industry should also offer case studies and project work to schools to stimulate interest and prizes could encourage school leavers to consider university food courses.

It would be remiss of me not to mention the excellent website and support provided by your Careers in Food and Drink supplement, which offers advice for those leaving education.