It is difficult to attract the best people to the food and grocery industry because of the common perception that it does not offer a serious career path. A recent IGD poll of young managers found that a shocking 68% had fallen into the industry by chance. It was not the career path they had planned. 

However, once people have joined the industry, most are very positive, with 74% believing that food and grocery sets a good example as an employer. An encouraging 61% are committed to a long-term career with their current employer. 

In a recent survey published in The Grocer (August 28, p32-33), it was refreshing to see that many new graduates have woken up to the fact that grocery retailing offers some amazing opportunities. But the figures show that retailing attracts only 4% of finalists’ applications and still lags far behind the leading industries – media, marketing and teaching – all of which attract more than 11% of finalists. 

But this industry is not just about retailing and it does not only employ graduates. Are all potential candidates fully aware of the opportunities in foodservice, manufacturing, logistics, packaging and other sectors? The food and grocery sector employs more than 3.4 million people and accounts for 11% of the UK workforce. It is a huge industry offering many opportunities, from general management to specialist jobs such as food technology and IT. 

Many individual companies have a good reputation, but as a whole the industry needs to do better. Much work is being undertaken on skills training, with Skillsmart and Improve looking at ways to attract, retain and develop people. 

So how can food and grocery ensure it attracts the very best? Iwill focus here on the high-calibre graduates.We need to find ways of offering them what they are looking for. Our research shows that graduate training or a structured development scheme is critical. 

Many professions, including accountancy, law and marketing, offer structured and validated qualifications that are recognised routes for people developing their careers. However, the food and grocery industry does not. A qualification that is specific to our industry and is widely recognised by employers could help to attract the leading lights. 

With increasing numbers of students getting first degrees, the proposition of a postgraduate qualification is becoming even more attractive. We believe offering a qualification relevant to our industry will be key to attracting and retaining more quality people. As a result, the IGD has invested time and expertise in developing a postgraduate course, which is a major step towards a master’s. 

We have worked with the University of Edinburgh to ensure we offer a truly rounded course applicable to people working in our industry. The course is delivered by highly respected tutors who themselves have industry experience and bring tremendous insight. 

The master’s option will be available in 2006, when new delegates have completed our postgraduate course.
All employers need good management talent in their organisations to ensure continued growth. The most efficient way to achieve this is to develop talent from within. It is people that make the difference and enable companies to deliver outstanding customer care and service. An industry-recognised qualification is good news for both the employer and its employees. 

The IGD Postgraduate Course in Food & Grocery Industry Management includes the following units:
-The food and grocery industry
-Applied consumer research
-Human resource management
-Business accounting and costing
Optional units:
- Account management and buying 
- The store 

Further information: visit and
Joanne Denney-Finch is chief executive of the IGD