I welcome last week's announcement from the Scottish Government on the development of a national policy for food and drink. Quite correctly, the Government gives the health of the nation a high priority, and employers in the food and drink industry will be stressing the vital contributions they can make in this respect.
However, while the Government says it also wants to support the sustainable growth of this industry, achieving these targets will require tackling key issues such as skills, and employers are looking for evidence of tangible support from ministers on this.
This is the largest manufacturing sector in Scotland and our employers were disappointed by its exclusion from the recent announcement on adult skills funding. We will be pressing hard for the Government to implement its promise to introduce Level 2 modern apprenticeships and make public funds available for them, not just for the young, but for employees of all ages.
This is crucial for the development of the Scottish food and drink industry where a quarter of the workforce lacks basic skills in literacy, numeracy and communication, and 90 per cent of employees are aged 25 or over.
Jack Matthews, chief executive, Improve (food and drink sector skills council) and chairman of The Alliance of Sector Skills Councils Scotland.