NPD Skills Shortage

Interim Specifications Technologists In Demand!

In the last couple of years, we have noticed a significant increase in demand for Interim Specifications Technologists/ Writers. Whether Food manufacturers have a dedicated spec writing team in-house or not, at peak times (eg in preparation for product launches), bringing an experienced Interim in can help take the burden off the Technical team. Most of the demand comes from companies needing assistance in completing retailer’s online specifications systems; it is crucial to ensure these documents are as accurate as possible. Many of our Interims have attended the retailer’s own training courses as well as, in the course of their careers, having inputted 100’s if not 1000’s of specifications across a whole variety of products so they are well placed to deliver what the customer wants quickly and efficiently. We have been challenged in the past by companies who feel that £250-£350 per day is a lot of money to spend on a non-Management interim role (where the Interim may in some cases be only be a few years out of University) but there are time-savings to take into account and with specialist customer-focused activities such as this then hiring a professional to help get the job done can help avoid customer frustration and ultimately could help prevent delays in launching lucrative new product lines. The recent FIR changes have also increased the demand for these services which can be accessed either by having an Interim based on site or having them working remotely (which can help keep costs down).

In recent years many talented specs writers have left permanent positions to pursue an Interim career which in turn is driving up salaries for permanent Specifications roles. It was the norm a couple of years ago for salaries to be around the £20-£25k mark but we have placed specifications technologists this year with salaries approaching £35k! Many more companies are also now having a dedicated person or team to look after specifications whereas a few years ago it was the norm for specifications to be encompassed as part of a larger role.

Obviously using an Interim is not the only option, companies could train up an existing member of the Technical team or Food Science graduate to help out when deadlines loom BUT often time is the big driver and to bring a novice up to speed takes up a lot of man hours in training / supervision compared to getting an Interim in within 24/48 hours It will be interesting to see how this trend continues in the coming months…watch this space!

To talk to Jarvis Johnson about using a full or part-time Interim to assist with Retailer, Internal or Raw Material specifications please call 0844 335 1869 and ask to speak to Lisa Johnson

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