1. Home
  2. Insights

There’s Never Been a Better Time to Join the Food and Beverage Industry

A woman wearing a face mask and baseball cap guides a basket of fruit down a conveyor belt.

Food and beverage is a multi-billion dollar industry. And with a growing world population, the demand is only increasing. As consumer demands grow and shift, job opportunities in the industry are burgeoning — so why not take advantage?

According to Aerotek Strategic Account Executive Stanley Johnson, this is the time to get into the food and beverage industry. Johnson has over 17 years of experience at Aerotek and has seen trends come and go, but several factors make the present moment a unique opportunity.

Wages are rising

Johnson notes there are several factors leading to an increase in wages. Nationally, manufacturing and distribution jobs in the food and beverage industry are seeing an increase in pay rate that should continue throughout the year. This is due to a shortage of available workers and an increase in product diversification. 

As a result, the industry has had to increase wages to a degree that Johnson has not seen before. For example, food manufacturing wages have grown from $19.09 per hour to $20.61 per hour from December 2020 to November 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

"The food and beverage industry has really stepped up its game," he says. In addition to the higher wages, food and beverage workers benefit from a level of stability workers in other industries do not have. "No matter what happens, people have to eat," he says.

With changing trends in the way and what people eat, food manufacturers are having to get highly adaptive and creative to meet the needs and wants placed by consumers. For candidates, this means they will be able to gain more skills, better pay, and have more leaderships opportunities than ever before. 

Growth brings opportunities

Johnson also notes that the food and beverage industry is more open to hiring workers with no prior experience. They are also receptive of jobseekers from other fields and different educational backgrounds. Food and beverage positions present a unique opportunity to develop new skills and enter a new complex industry. "Cross-training is part of the job," says Johnson. "A company may have you start as a prepper, then move you to different departments to see where you'll be a good fit." Someone working in inventory may learn quality assurance, mixing and other aspects of the industry, then possibly move into supervisory roles, he says.

Another promising trend is the rise of trade education in high schools. Subjects like machine work and electrical repair are being taught to a new generation. Food production incorporates systems that require operation and maintenance. Earlier access to these experiences prepares students who excel in hands-on work to get jobs in the industry.

Considering candidates’ needs

Companies understand that if they want the best candidates, they need to be able to accommodate their prospects' needs. A major concern for most candidates is establishing stability and consistency. Obtaining both could mean a steady paycheck and regular hours, so they can both establish their career and create a reliable schedule and budget for their day-to-day lives. "Candidates want to be able to plan ahead," says Johnson.

Potential employees also want a safe work environment, especially post-COVID-19. They want to know "what safety protocols do companies have? What are they doing to make sure people are protected?", Johnson explains. He notes that employers have invested a lot of money to make workspaces safe. Practices like temperature screenings and social distancing measures are now standard in many settings.

How do you land the job? Team mindset is key

But of course, candidates need to match what companies are looking for. Above all, says Johnson, companies want employees with a strong work ethic. That means responsible workers who arrive on time, are team players and have a team mindset. Johnson emphasizes that it's important for candidates to exhibit these attributes in their application. Show the employer these characteristics early in the interview and you're more likely to succeed.

A candidates’ market

Still, with the Baby Boomer generation beginning to retire and opening even more opportunities, Johnson sees a food and beverage industry with an insatiable appetite for hiring. "It's a candidate's market for the foreseeable future."

Intrigued? Search for food and beverage industry jobs and get your career underway.