UK food manufacturing will see a significant increase in managerial, professional and technically skilled vacancies, paving the way for more apprentices.

The National Skills Academy for Food & Drink has predicted that the industry will need to recruit more than 49,000 new skilled professionals and managers along with 27,000 production staff by 2020 as current workers retire.

Overall, it has predicted that 109,000 new staff will be required over the next 10 years, despite total numbers dipping due to the rise of automation and gains through technology and efficiency.

Justine Fosh, chief executive, said: “That’s great news for the next generation of talent and puts the food industry firmly on the map as a career destination of choice for those studying toward a rewarding job in a dynamic and highly innovative sector that’s home to some of the UK’s best known brands.

“The renewed emphasis on STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) within the education system is welcome as it’s these areas that open the door to a well-paid, secure future in food along with industry approved vocational training and high-quality apprenticeships.”

However, the prediction of the need for new staff is down on the number released in 2012 of 170,000 as industry employment demand stayed high during and after the recession.

Fosh warned that firms would continue to have to look to overseas nationals if the recent surge of interest from UK job hunters subsided or they didn’t have the right skill base.

The Academy’s analysis shows the number of non-UK nationals employed in food manufacturing has risen from 26% in 2010 to 36% today.