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Building workforce capacity through vocational programs

Given the strong and persistent growth in alternative protein production, the industry has a pressing need for a trained workforce. Technical colleges should establish programs to help train the next generation of alternative protein workforces and build a talent pipeline for the industry.

Production platform
  • Plant-based icon Plant-Based
  • Cultivated icon Cultivated
  • Fermentation icon Fermentation
Solution category
  • Ecosystem
  • Commercial
Value chain segment
  • Workforce
  • Business Services
Relevant actor
  • Academics
  • Donors
  • GFI
  • NGO’s
  • Policymakers
  • Startups
Maturity level
  • 1 – Inception

Current challenge

The success of any industry depends not only on its resources and capabilities but also on its workforce. Given the relatively nascent nature of the alternative protein industry, proper training of its future workforce and establishing a strong talent pipeline is of utmost importance. The alternative protein market grew 17% in 2018 to $5 billion and is projected to grow to $85 billion in the next decade. To keep pace with this growth and scale production to meet future demand, educational programs aimed at training the next generation of alternative protein talent need to be established.

Proposed solution

Technical community colleges have accelerated programs for students and working professionals to learn real-world skills and are often located close to industry. Laney College, for instance, offers degrees in biomanufacturing skills and machine technology, which would be essential skills for the future development of cultivated and fermentation meat bioprocess design. Jefferson Institute for Bioprocessing has similarly pertinent majors. These colleges have the potential to supply a steady stream of talent to meet the biomanufacturing, facilities engineering, and operations needs of the alternative protein industry. Other technical colleges and institutions should expand their degree programs to accommodate the growing interest in and demand for technical skills relevant to alternative protein technologies.

Anticipated impact

Creating vocational programs that train the labor force to work in alternative protein facilities will streamline the labor transition needed to power the future of food. Having a good talent pool is essential to scaling production, reducing costs, ensuring resilience, and improving end product quality. Establishing connections between alternative protein companies and technical vocational programs through career centers and recruiters will help create effective labor market matching and reduce barriers to entry for companies and individuals.

University research centers such as PPIC, NC State, University of Saskatchewan, and the Alt Protein Project chapters.

GFI also maintains a talent database for the alternative protein industry. If you are seeking a job or other opportunity in the industry you can add yourself here. If you would like to post a role on GFI’s website, you can do so here.

GFI resources

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Alternative protein career portal

Discover rewarding alternative protein jobs. Gain insights on building your career and find open positions in this exciting industry.

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Student resource guide

This guide will help you steer through the exciting world of alternative proteins.

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Building alternative protein programs and majors at universities

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Building interdisciplinary university research centers of excellence

Interdisciplinary research is essential for tackling many of the complex problems facing today’s world. Though the number of research projects advancing alternative protein science has increased in recent years, this…

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Industry workshops, courses, and training programs

The alternative protein industry has a significant need for workers and innovators with specialized knowledge spanning multiple traditional disciplines. However, since few universities offer alternative protein majors or dedicated subject…

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