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TRACK_FAST Approach to the Solution

The members of this consortium, drawn from all geographic points of Europe, strongly believe that the restoration and maintenance of EU’s food industry leadership in the global economy can only happen through promoting a higher degree of innovation and competitiveness in the food sector. This, in turn, can only be achieved by a profound change in Europe’s food workforce (who must to be updated on the most recent skills and issues in the industry) and in its employers (who need to select the most skilled candidate for each function).

The combined experiences of the members of the consortium consider that these profound changes must be based on:
> An awareness and understanding of personal skill requirements of the different segments (functional and size segments) in food sector job market. 
> The establishment of a framework for continued professional training and retraining, and for career development for the food professional.
> Regulation of food science and technology professions in Europe. 
> Motivation of young people to enter and pursue of a career in food science and technology in Europe.

The needs of the individual job market will vary according to the sub-sector of the food industry and to company size (multinational, medium-sized industry; SME and microenterprise); for example, in a large company the food scientist/technologist will almost certainly work in a multidisciplinary team whereas in an SME the same person would have much more personal responsibility and would need to operate as a “multidisciplinary specialist”. This project will identify the needs of the various segments of the European food and drink industry through a series of questionnaires followed by innovative workshops. Here industry representatives will participate in group works projects that share information across country and industry segment.

As important as the food industry, for the food science and technology professionals’ job market, are food services and distributive trades. Food Services (or catering industry) include restaurants, school and hospital cafeterias, catering operations, and other formats. They employ more than 15 million people in EU 27 and have 27.9 billion euros of turnover (Eurostat, 2005). Distributive trade of food, beverage and tobacco in specialized stores presented a turnover 12.7 billion euros (in 2005). 
Although these are not traditional segments considered in food science and technology studies, such segments will be addressed by TRACK_FAST. 

The training and career requirements identified within TRACK_FAST will include both technical aspects (such as food safety, process design or food product development) and generic competences (communication, interpersonal relations, ethical issues, management skills and an awareness of the needs of stakeholders in the food chain). This project will then propose an accreditation framework for a European-wide recognition of the skilled FAST and a virtual community of food science and technology professionals is proposed; amongst other benefits, this will provide the food scientist/technologist working in a SME with an effective social and professional network and information resource site. 

The project will also carry out research into evidence of social recognition, salary- and professional attractiveness. This is important when regulation of the profession occurs and also for motivating young people to enter a career in food science and technology. This project will also prepare a draft proposal on regulation of the food profession in Europe which will be presented to the European Commission.