What’s it all about then?
New products and innovation are vital to future success. Your job as a development assistant will involve supporting the company product development technologists and manager to get their jobs done effectively.
You’ll be coordinating with other company departments and also suppliers and customers and making sure that everything runs smoothly and according to agreed procedures.
You’ll also make sure that specifications are drawn up correctly and review these in line with any legislative updates that affect your company.
As an assistant you may also be involved with product trials and product sampling through taste panels.
All-in-all, this is a very busy, varied and important role.
What might I be doing?
This depends on the size of the new product development team - although specific duties related to your job are likely to include the following:
- Assisting in the development process for various projects
- Ensuring that all projects are delivered in a consistent manner and according to agreed procedures and specifications
- Accurately completing all project-related documentation
- Organising schedules for production line testing of products, tasting panels and so on
- Preparing and despatching samples to customers
- Ensuring that the product development area is spotlessly clean in line with hygiene rules and all equipment is kept properly maintained
- Liaising with other company departments and ensuring good dialogue and smooth information flows
- Making sure all incoming ingredients and supplies are delivered on time and according to agreed quality specifications
- Working as a key member of the New Product Development team
What will be expected of me?
You’ll have to be well-organised and be able to maintain your focus when you’re working to make sure that everything is done on schedule and in an extremely accurate manner.
As well as being part of the team, you’ll be expected to work on your own and use your own initiative at times so you have to have a confident, outgoing nature.
Being a good communicator is important as you’ll be dealing with lots of different people in this job so you have to be able to get your points across while remaining calm and professional at all times and acting as an ambassador for your company.
Because you’re going to be working with facts and figures and writing reports, you should have good written and numerical skills.
You’ll obviously need to have an interest in science and its application to the food product development process.
The job involves paying a lot of attention to detail. You’ll also need to have good written and verbal skills to prepare reports and a present ideas to other departments and customers etc.
What can I expect?
Your working week will be over 40 hours and you’ll combine time in the office with time in the factory as required. In order to run production trials, it’s likely you will have to work occasional evenings and weekends so bear this in mind if you only want an “office hours” career.
You might also enjoy some travel in this role for customer and supplier meetings.
What about the pay?
This is an entry role into the world of New Product Development so you may expect to earn £14,000 to £18,000 in the first instance, although this will increase with experience.
These figures are for guideline purposes only - some will earn more and some less.
What qualifications do I need to get in?
Some companies will ask for graduate trainees to fulfil this role while others may make a job like this available for someone with experience in the company, such as a production operative with aspirations to move to a new product development role.
As the role of development assistant might be considered to be “entry level” you might also be recruited after completing A-levels or Further Education (FE) qualifications.
Where would I get these qualifications?
If you enter employment post A-levels, then these will probably be in Science Technology Engineering or Maths (STEM) related subjects studied either at school or your local FE College.
In the case of FE subjects, the local colleges all offer catering qualifications which could prove useful when applying for the product development post.
Or you could consider the National Certificates and Diplomas in Food Technology and Food Nutrition and Health.
What about further training?
You’ll learn a lot on the job but your company will very likely help you with further study which will enhance your career prospects.
You could consider Foundation degrees or part-time options. Alternatively, look at short courses which will give you very specific knowledge to assist you in your career development.
You might also consider membership of a professional organisation such as the Institute of Food Science and Technology and this will be useful in a number of ways including networking opportunities, news of new developments, and demonstration of your commitment to your career through continuing professional development.
Anything else I might need to know?
Yes, the role of Product Development Assistant is a great stepping stone for the launch of a fantastic career in the food manufacturing sector.
The job provides you with lots of invaluable product and production knowledge and exposure to other roles in your company – helpful when you’re looking for the next move upwards.