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Tasty Challenge programme to engage young people in Wales’ food and drink industry

Idris Davies School 3-18, in Abertysswg, Caerphilly, has become the first school in Wales to win the inaugural Tasty Challenge programme – an innovative scheme designed to encourage interest and boost skills currently needed across the food and drink industry in Wales.

[aoa id=”1″]In partnership with local schools, the National Skills Academy for Food & Drink (NSAFD), the voice of food and drink careers across Wales, offers a series of education training programmes to change the way students look at jobs in the industry and to increase employability.[/aoa]

Tasty Challenge saw Caerphilly students develop a food product they thought would be of interest to Welsh consumers. The programme aims to introduce students to the wide variety of career opportunities available across the food and drink industry including marketing, finance, design and HR.

Sixty 14-year old students from Idris Davies School 3-18 took part in the Tasty Challenge to battle it out to win the title of Best Welsh Food Product. Divided into groups of three to six, students applied for specific roles within their team including project manager, financial manager, HR manager and marketing manager, ensuring each student had different actions to lead on. Students had 17 hours to come up with a concept, organise a presentation, compile a business plan and pitch to peers and teachers.

Standout ideas included; Bwyd Da, a vegan cookie product in the shape of iconic Welsh symbols like dragons and daffodils; Dyffryn Bach, a naturally sweetened syrup for pancakes and coffees and Bwyd Gorau’r Cymoedd, a variety of upside-down pizza wraps with Welsh products like Snowdonia Cheese and Glamorgan Sausages – all of which moved on to the second phase of the challenge which saw them pitch to Welsh companies including Allied Bakeries, RF Brookes, Careers Wales and Castell Howell.

For the third and final phase, Dyffryn Bach and Bwyd Gorau’r Cymoedd went head to head at Taste Wales / Blas Cymru, Wales largest international food and drink conference. The judging panel awarded the Tasty Challenge cup to the Welsh pizza wrap business.

Claire Sheen, Leader of teaching and learning for Welsh Baccalaureate at Idris Davies School 3-18 said: “For the past year, I have been researching different real-life scenarios that I could present to our learners in order to link the curriculum to careers.  I wanted to provide opportunities for our learners to network with professionals and offer them the experience of working in situations that they may be faced with later in life. These scenarios are difficult to provide authentically in a classroom setting however being involved with the Tasty Challenge did just that. The idea of our learners coming up with their own idea and concept for a product is a great way of getting them to think creatively and develop new skills that could be utilised in their professional lives.”

Speaking about the programme, James Hicks, Strategic Development Manager for Wales at the National Skills Academy for Food & Drink, said: “Welsh food and drink is going from strength to strength and it’s a really exciting time for the industry. Welsh food and drink exports have increased by 10 percent in the last year alone. However, despite this growth, it is proving increasingly difficult to attract young people and those with the relevant skills to the industry.

“Through a number of innovative programmes, we are working to engage young people and educate them about the job opportunities available across the industry and steer them away from stereotypical assumptions currently hindering recruitment. Our Tasty Challenge programme in particular focuses on the entrepreneurial side of the industry and shows the roles that are involved when creating a new food product. We’re trying to steer away from stereotypes about jobs in the industry and highlight that actually the variety of employment opportunities is huge, it’s now just about creating the appetite for these diverse roles.”

The National Skills Academy for Food & Drink is an organisation and network that looks at how food and drink businesses across Wales can engage with young people and unemployed people to promote the wide variety of job opportunities across the industry.

The Tasty Challenge programme is an Enterprise and Employability challenge competition designed for schools delivering the National / Foundation Skills Challenge Certificate Welsh Baccalaureate at Key Stage 4. Approved by the WJEC, the competition enables participants to develop skills in creativity, innovation, personal effectiveness and digital literacy.