Home > News and views > Businesses and Employers

Discussing exciting STEM career opportunities within the food and drink sector at our latest Business Breakfast

Published: Jun 9, 2022 -2 min read


At our latest Business Breakfast event in May, the expert panel and attendees discussed the barriers to recruitment, myths around the STEM opportunities within the food and drink sector and how we can tackle these. We were delighted to work in partnership with the Institute of Food Science and Technology for this session hosted by Just Eat at their London offices.

On the panel were:

  • Joshua Payne - Chief Education Manager, National Farmers’ Union (NFU)
  • Deborah Kendale - Business Development Director, Institute of Food Science and Technology (IFST)
  • Brooklyn Thirkettle - Senior Product Analyst & Global STEM Programme Lead, Just Eat
  • Daniel Lewin - Regional Network Lead for the East Midlands, STEM Learning

Josh began the discussion by highlighting the NFU’s approach of using agriculture as a context for teaching and learning, which helps teachers introduce the industry to young people. They’ve created STEM resources and events, and have worked directly with 500k students through their live lessons.

He pointed out that there are many opportunities within the sector, and we need to get this message through with project-based learning, adding “The application of STEM subjects is incredibly important to inspire young people”. NFU is now getting ready to launch its new Engineering Educates Farmvention Challenge.

Deborah explained that the sector is not all ‘big businesses’ and in fact, 90% of the sector is made up of SMEs. She emphasised the importance of diverse roles within the sector with a wide variety of careers in production, processing and providing, informing and consumer protection - ensuring we can enjoy great food and drink every day. She also pointed out the importance of parents in shaping young people’s career aspirations. IFST is launching Project Inspire to work with industry, education, and government. She said: “It’s about relationships and networks – how we work together to get one step up the ladder at a time”.

Brooklyn agreed with Deborah that strength lies within the partnerships. Just Eat have a good relationship with STEM Learning and also promotes STEM Ambassadors. One of the biggest struggles is being able to engage and talk to students directly, so working with teachers is key. She added: “We want students to explore diverse opportunities and discover where STEM subjects can take them in their careers”.

Dan described the food and drink sector as a ‘behemoth’ of opportunities. He re-iterated the message from all the other panellists that there is a wealth of experiences that young people can have within the sector but also highlighted that these opportunities are massively underrepresented.

He agreed with his fellow panellists that parental and teacher engagement is key and that they need to be supported to become more aware of what is available: “Most teachers don’t have any industry experience and we need to help the educators have a greater understanding of the possibilities out there.”

It was great to see some excitement on social media around the session too!




If you were unable to attend this session and would like a copy of the recording, please contact employers@stem.org.uk clearly stating which business breakfast you are interested in. Or, if you want to speak to us about how you might support us with any of our programmes, please contact Liz Whitworth l.whitworth@stem.org.uk for an initial conversation.

For further information please visit:

STEM Ambassadors

Nuffield Research Placements

STEM Learning career fairs

ENTHUSE Partnerships

NFU Education


Engineering Educates