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Skills & Competences for the FS&T of the Future

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Start time (UTC): 
2013-December-11, 14:00
Presenter
Presenter name: 
Katherine Flynn
Presenter institution: 
The European Association for Food Safety, SAFE consortium
Details
Description: 

The education, training and skills of professional food scientists and technologists (FS&Ts) may not be keeping pace with changing requirements in the varied FS&T employment areas, e.g., industry, research, academia, government and other, non-traditional workplaces. The low innovation ranking and decreasing global importance of the European food and drink (F&D) sector is worrisome (CIAA, 2011). Innovation depends upon skilled professionals, and the skills required in F&D are not static.

A part of the ISEKI_Food 4 project is identification of skills which will be needed by the FS&T of the future. In this study, a questionnaire asked currently employed FS&Ts to rate the importance of skills previously identified as the most desireable by FS&T employers (Flynn et al., 2013). The top five hard, scientific or technical skills and soft, personal or generalizable skills were rated on a five-point Liker scale for their importance to the respondent’s job in the years to come. After several months of on-line availability and advertisement by the 80+ ISEKI_Food 4 partners, 237 questionnaires were collected.

“Thinking & Solving Problems” was followed by “Being Responsible” as the number one and two skills, with 64% and 59% claiming these will be “Very Important” for their job in the future. The third skill was “Food Safety Management, Food Hygiene & Food Safety Control” with 50%. Overall, the “Very Important” ranking was 51% for the five soft skills and 43% for the 5 technical skills. Interestingly, a prior study showed that FS&T employers also identified soft skills as more desirable than technical skills, but the most important soft skills (and technical skills) do not always agree between employer and employee. The employees responding here were not representative of all FS&Ts: Most had a Ph.D. or Master’s (80%), a high or medium level of job responsibility (79%), worked in Industry and Academia/Research (91%) and had more than 15 years of job experience (66%), thus these results are more particular to this group.

These data will be presented and further elaborated to show relationships among most important skills and workplace and job responsibility. Additional comparisons with employer views of desirable FS&T skills will add to the discussion. It is more and more widely recognized that both outstanding technical and soft skills are required for success.

 

Speaker:

Katherine Flynn received her Ph.D. in Biology in 1998 from the City University of New York. She did postdoctoral work at the US Food and Drug Administration on neurobehavioural effects of dietary exposure to endocrine disrupters and then worked at the Institute of the Science of Food Production in Bari Italy. She was Assistant Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies at Adelphi University in New York and is currently Scientific Secretary of the European Association for Food Safety, SAFE consortium. Here she is responsible for participation in European projects, including Track_Fast which focused on training and recruiting food scientists and ISEKI which is focused on university education for food scientists. She continues as a part-time Associate Professor teaching physiology, biology and toxicology in NY and in Rome. She has published over 25 papers in international peer reviewed journal and given dozes of presentations on topics combining environmental and food toxicology, physiology and science education.

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