IFSTAL in a post-truth, Brexit, Big Data era

We ran our third workplace workshop last week inviting professionals from the food sector to reflect on skills gaps identified at previous workshops back in 2015 and 2016.

Representatives from WRAP, IFST, Bayer, FDF and the FSA attended the session at City, University of London with some of the IFSTAL team. Discussions ranged from building resilience in our graduate cohort and coping with the sometimes conflicting pressures of organisational objectives versus the need for systemic change. Open-mindedness and the ability to recognise the positions of others in the system also featured on the day with questions around whether this is a trainable skill or a more behavioural trait.

“Open-mindedness is key – being aware of the views/agenda/dogmas of others, showing flexibility, empathy and having knowledge of the range of things out there. The scope of our education system gets narrower the further down the path you get; IFSTAL offers complementary breadth to this.” *

After lunch the seismic changes in the world in recent years were considered and the groups identified new social, political and technological forces jolting the food system. The general perception that the awareness of the concept of the food system has grown and the increased use of collaboration are all positive changes we can use to support IFSTAL aims.

“Just because you’re a scientist doesn’t mean you can’t be a citizen!” *

A theme throughout the dialogue was the recognition of our growing food systems community. Connecting with and staying in touch with our alumni; cultivating our workplace contacts and facilitating new learning opportunities specifically for them are all ways we can support the strategic relationships within it.

“It’s not just about increasing your network but about strategic networking. It’s about understanding the nature of the relationship and forming mutually beneficially collaborations.” *

In the coming weeks we will gauge further opinions from the community on how IFSTAL should evolve to reflect new skill gaps and the changing shape of the global landscape. Watch this space!

Blog by Dr Rosina Borrelli, IFSTAL Workplace Engagement Lead.

Find out ways to get involved with IFSTAL, join our Food Systems Community, or contact Rosina for further information.

*All quotes paraphrased from workshop participants.

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