A first-of-its-kind pan-European assessment process for all professional education and training programmes within the agrifood system is launched today (Tuesday 18 October) in Brussels, at the annual event for the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) Food initiative.

The University of Reading, the Fraunhofer Institute, and industrial partners including PepsiCo, created the EIT Food Learning Services as part of the Europe-wide EIT Food initiative. As well as the accreditation process for training programmes, EIT Food Learning Services will provide independent certification for learners through EIT Food Assessment.

The EIT Food Quality Mark of Excellence establishes that a provider’s portfolio of professional development courses has passed a rigorous quality assessment. This is underpinned by a new competency framework, developed with employers, to identify skills gaps and career development opportunities.

In consultation with over 1,000 businesses and employers across Europe, EIT Food found that current education and training provision does not meet the needs of the industry and that urgent change is needed to professionalise education across the food system.

The competency framework lays out clear vocational and professional pathways for learning that employers can use to identify skills gaps in their workforce and select high-quality learning materials to aid career development.

Barbara Mason, EIT Food Professional Education Framework Lead, said: “Climate change and a growing population raise major concerns about our future food security. We need a workforce that understands these challenges and can come up with innovative solutions. For that, we need to ensure that everyone gets the training and development they need to succeed and that they can demonstrate that training and development with a certificate of advancement they can trust.”

Maarten van der Kamp, Director of Education at EIT Food, said: “Over 40 million people are currently employed within our global food system, from production and manufacturing through to retail and hospitality. However, speaking to over one thousand employers across Europe revealed that most do not feel adequately prepared to deal with the challenges facing our food system.

“We hope to see our Learning Services set a standard of excellence for professional development in the agrifood industry and support employers to upskill their workforces to deal with the challenges that lie ahead.”

EIT Food offers over 50 courses in its catalogue, including 25 OOCs (open online courses).

The Learning Services will also offer consultancy services and a mentoring programme for educators in the agrifood sector.

This EIT Food activity has received funding from the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), a body of the European Union, under Horizon Europe, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.

Views expressed do not reflect the views of the European Union.