Tomi Jones becomes the first food ambassador of the ‘Future Skills… food for thought’ campaign

Tomi Jones, an award-winning Butcher from Llangollen, has been announced this week as the first food skills ambassador for the ‘Future Skills… food for thought’ campaign. As an ambassador for the campaign Tomi will be featured in the first of a series of short films highlighting the important role skills play in delivering quality long-term careers in the industry.

Over the coming months the campaign will be looking for a further 24 new recruits highlighting the importance of skills across the entire food and drink supply chain, from agriculture through to manufacturing, retail and hospitality.

Tomi Jones, 23, runs the family-run butchers in Llangollen and was named Welsh Young Butcher of the Year 2012. Tomi began his career in carpentry but butchery was in his blood and he decided to re-train. He was assisted by Jobs Growth Wales and had the opportunity to gain NVQ Level 2 and 3 in Butchery with Cambrian Training. By now Tomi has three trainee apprentices of his own to train in the profession.

The ‘Future Skills… food for thought’ campaign has been organised by the Welsh Food & Drink Skills Project after research found that there exists significant skills gaps across the food and drink supply chain. In response to this research the Sector Skills Councils which represent the industry have come together to encourage the up-skilling of approximately 75,000 existing workers as well as finding new entrants for the industry by 2020.

Commenting, Tomi Jones said, “It’s been a great opportunity to learn the skills that I need to do the job that I enjoy doing and gain the qualifications and experience at the same time. Having three apprentices working alongside me is a big thing for me, especially at a young age. Not a lot of people have the opportunity to do it, but I enjoy it and I enjoy teaching them. It gets people off the street and into a job they like doing.

Following research commissioned by the project highlighting significant skills gaps across the supply chain, the campaign will run over 2013/14 travelling the breadth of Wales and engaging with leading employers and membership bodies from across the industry. It is projected that through plugging these gaps the sector can expand further over the coming decade and consolidate its position as the largest collective employer in Wales

Sian Roberts-Davies, Business Development Manager at Lantra, said: “We are delighted that our search for industry ambassadors has led us to Tomi. Learning about the importance he has placed in training should be an inspiration to all, not to mention the fact Tomi has since taken on three apprentices of his own.”

Project partners have developed this call to action due to the vital role the sector plays in underpinning the wider Welsh economy. Together, all of the businesses that make up the food and drink industry in Wales employ around 230,000 people. This represents 18% of the Welsh workforce, making it the largest collective employer in Wales. Generating around £6.5bn of sales revenue annually, the industry is, in fact, now the largest combined industry of employment in Wales.

As part of the campaign, leading employers and membership bodies will be signing-up their organisations to promote the benefits of skills in across the food and drink industry. With the correct training and experience, it can provide the opportunity to develop a challenging and rewarding lifelong career in the food and drink industry.

The Welsh Food & Drink Skills Project is supported the Sector Priorities Fund Pilot programme with funding from the European Social Fundthrough theWelsh Government, and delivered in partnership between Lantra, the Land Based Skills Council, Improve – the Food and Drink Skills Council and People 1stCymru, the Hospitality and Tourism Skills Council.