Tholen - A little too often fresh produce recruiter Taco van der Louw of Up & Up still comes across it: a junior salesman is placed with a fresh produce company, but the is no time to give them proper guidance. And so they are assigned a list of bad customers. Which often results in a dissatisfied employer and employee.
"The situation in the fresh produce labor market is quite challenging. Staff was already scarce. Staff was already scarce. With Corona and all the attention to sustainability and health, the demand for fresh produce is only increasing. Hence, the industry is on the rise, but at the same time, I notice a big gap between the wishes of the candidates and the fresh produce companies. For example, many companies are still not open to candidates who work (partly) from home. That is such a shame because it only makes it harder for themselves in an already tight market," says Taco.
To better connect the path of young fresh produce talent to the labor market, the recruiter has started a new company together with five professionals from different disciplines: The Fresh Academy. The partners with whom this initiative is started will be introduced soon. The plan is to second candidates from the secondary vocational education (MBO4+), higher vocational education (HBO), and university levels to a fresh produce company for two years. At the same time, they will be provided with a training program about purchasing, sales, marketing, quality control, logistics et cetera. "Initially, we focus on the fresh produce industry, but we will then see if we can take it up more broadly in the direction of retail and food."
"With The Fresh Academy, we are not only offering fresh produce companies potential staff, but we are also going to prepare the candidates for work in the fresh produce industry We are going to collaborate with educational institutions, but there is also a lot of knowledge in the team of the founders. We will take assessments with the candidates so that they are aware of their strengths and weaknesses. We also focus on international candidates. The main language of all courses and training sessions will therefore be English. But we are also pragmatic. If the need for a Dutch course arises, we will also provide it," says Taco.
"The biggest challenge will be to find candidates for The Fresh Academy. Fortunately, we have good contacts at HBO schools, and I think it is also a unique opportunity for the candidates to get to know the industry while being paid for it. From companies we expect two people to be appointed mentors, so that good supervision is guaranteed."
"Companies are eager for this. The advantage is that after the two years they are not tied to anything either. They can hire the candidate after the program and if there is no match during the posting, it is always an option to switch candidates," Taco continued. "We want to launch The Fresh Academy with a select number of companies. We're going to take it on professionally, but also follow through. The goal is really to unburden the fresh produce companies with this. Of course, we hope that there will be a spin-off from this, but we are all doing this alongside a busy job for the industry."
Taco is present as a sponsor on behalf of Up&Up at the fresh produce Knowledge(s) Day. He will be there as a contact person from The Fresh Academy to answer questions.
For more information:
Taco van der Louw
The Fresh Academy
+31 (0)6 5352 6246