Need for a new strategy on education and training is among the results of what is claimed to be the first comprehensive mapping study of the UK packaging industry.

The project was carried out by The Institute of Packaging and sponsored by the Department of Trade and Industry, with support from the Science, Mathematics and Technology National Training Organisation. It involved nearly two years of research identifying 13,000 UK companies, validating 7,000 respondent businesses and analyzing the detailed responses of 2,500 businesses – 85 per cent of them small to medium enterprises.

The study has produced a definitive view of four key sectors of the industry, which is estimated to employ up to 250,000 people and generate a combined turnover of nearly £17 billion. Distribution of replies was: converters (57 per cent), merchant stockists (34 per cent), packer fillers (25 per cent) and contract packers (13 per cent).

The research reveals many important facets of the UK packaging sector, including geographical distribution, employment patterns, age profiles, and attitudes to both training and performance, quality and environmental standards. It also shows that while 80 per cent of companies responded to the training needs section, only 1-3 per cent of turnover is spent on training; and only 1-3 per cent of employees or company members are involved with government training initiatives.

The mapping project concludes with seven key recommendations: to develop an agreed definition of the industry; to develop an education and training strategy for SME’s; to develop more relevant and accessible qualifications across all packaging sectors; to seek a wider education and training programme; to carry out similar research covering machinery manufacturers, consultants and packaging designers; to maintain and expand the database created by the project; and to set up an Industry Forum – proposed as part of the Competitiveness Study carried out recently by The Packaging Federation and Pira International (see January issue).

More information from Institute of Packaging – TEL: +44 (0)1664 500055. FAX: +44 (0)1664 64164.