In January 2012, FoodDrinkEurope together with EFFAT officially launched the EU Sectoral Social Dialogue for the food and drink industry.
Since the establishment of this Sectoral Social Dialogue, various joint position papers have been issued on topics such as Industrial Policy, Climate Change, the reform of the CAP, Food Taxes, Solvency II and the draft Institutions for Occupational Retirement Provision (IORP) Directive. All of these joint position papers have been sent to and discussed with key Commission Officials.
During 2012, the EU social partners in the food and drink industry received funds from the European Commission in order to carry out a research project entitled ‘Ensuring Sustainable Employment and Competitiveness in the EU Food and Drink Sector: Meeting the Challenges of the Labour Market’.
This research resulted in the publication of a comprehensive Report in 2013 with some important recommendations for the EU food and drink manufacturing and processing (FDMP) sector’s social partners, as well as for the European Commission and the Member States. One important recommendation of this research was that the European Commission needed to recognise the importance of the FDMP sector to the EU economy and should develop a specific industrial policy that supported the future development and growth of the sector.
In October 2014, a new Europe-wide joint pledge on high-quality apprenticeships was made by the EU social partners as part of the European Alliance for Apprenticeships (EAfA) with the aim of empowering young graduates and students by providing them with access to quality training and practical experience through industrial placements. It also sought to raise awareness among FoodDrinkEurope’s members of the valuable contribution that apprentices can make to their business. This joint pledge is helping to support the EU social partners’ work to meet two complementary labour market policy recommendations in the above Report, namely tackling youth unemployment and identifying new sources of potential recruits for the FDMP sector.
FoodDrinkEurope, in collaboration with EFFAT, continues to work on the recommendations of the Report, including bringing new talents into the industry, managing an ageing workforce, and helping to make the FDMP sector more attractive to both new and existing employees; it is currently carrying out another important piece of Commission-funded research which is due to be published in mid-2016.
The main objective of this project is to develop a toolbox for practical human resources policy options for employers in the FDMP sector, together with some recommendations and guidelines for the national members of the EU social partners. This toolbox will contain specific suggestions and possible approaches on how to: recruit more young people and recruit amongst key groups that experience relatively low levels of employment in the sector (production, administration, management, research and innovation) and to improve training, apprenticeship and succession planning to address the shortage of first line supervisors and managers in the sector; retain older workers in employment by encouraging good practice in age management policies, better job opportunities and working conditions for older workers and improve the image of the EU FDMP sector.