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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 — but not for long

Johnson notes that the federal CARES Act, which provided additional unemployment insurance and stimulus payments to families, has made it more difficult for the food and beverage industry to hire workers. As a result, the industry has had to increase wages to a degree that Johnson has not seen before. "The food and beverage industry has really stepped up its game," he says. In addition to the higher wages, it offers stability. As Johnson points out, the sector is largely recession-proof. "No matter what happens, people have to eat," he says.

But Johnson reminds us that the pressure on increased wages will likely dissipate once the CARES Act expires — that's currently scheduled for Labor Day, September 6, 2021. While workers' current wages probably won't decrease, there may not be an incentive for employers to offer higher pay to new employees. For candidates, it’s better to strike while the iron is hot and seek employment now, while demand is still high.

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.