Explore: Food production

Production Operator
Gibsons Food

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Mike M

00:00:02 My name is Michael Maxwell, my job title is a production operator, a machine operator. I’m not an engineer as such, it’s more sort of setting up the setting. Say we’re going from a large sandwich to a shorter sandwich. My job is to shorten the packaging or widen it or change it. Different customers obviously have different preferences on the colours and stuff and that’s my job to change that sort of thing as well.

00:00:26 When I was in school I didn’t really have much of an idea what I wanted to do. I’ve always, and still am now, more of a take each day as it comes sort of person. I don’t really plan for the future a great deal. I didn’t very much enjoy school and the subjects that I picked to do A Level in I wasn’t very much enjoying. I just decided that it wasn’t for me and I thought if I was to carry on I’d end up going to university and all that. And at the time it didn’t seem like it was what I wanted to do.

00:00:57 When I was at school I had a weekend job and when I decided to leave school I just did that job full time. That was working in a restaurant at The Aquarium. So, that was my first full time employed job was working there. From there I went into being a life guard. That job suited me very much but the money wasn’t brilliant and I chased a job with more money and ended up going into manufacturing. I got a job in a factory on the line working just packaging and I watched the machine operators and the more I watched them and I picked up on what they were doing and how they were doing it and I sort of followed the mechanics of the machine until eventually, you know, I thought maybe that’s something I’d be good at and it developed from there. You know, once I was good at it, I enjoyed it.

00:01:45 I think school does come at the wrong time for some people, actually. It definitely came at the wrong time for me. Now I would rather sort of be in education, now I find it interesting. At the time I didn’t, it was something I was forced to do. I don’t particularly like being told what to do. I’m sure that’s the same for most people, especially young people. You know, they like to find their own path and to be told what path you’re going down and you will be here at this time and you will do this subject and you will do it right, is, you know, I think, especially sort of high school when you’re changing, your attitudes are constantly changing to be that mundane and that sort of strict didn’t really suit me. Now I’m more sort of in the frame of mind I’d like to educate myself more. Now I’m in the mood to progress. But back then I just wanted to sort of chill out and make a bit of money and have fun with me friends and it was just the attitude, the frame of mind I was in at the time.

00:02:40 The only thing that’s held me back in my life and career is myself and possibly fear of failing. You know, nobody likes to fail at anything but what I’ve learnt as I got older is it’s better to try and fail than to not try. And now I try not to let things hold me back. In the past perhaps I have but no, not so much now. If I see an opportunity I go for it wholeheartedly.

00:03:06 I derive happiness mostly from me friends and family, from people. You know, people make me happy, I like interacting, I like talking, I like having a laugh and a joke. That’s where I sort of get my happiness from and it’s where I, it’s made me what I am. You know, having good friends and good family and that’s what’s inspired me more to be what I am. Not through like trying to copy somebody or trying to be more like them. But just sort of interacting with people, I think, makes you better. And makes you happier. It does for me, anyway.


Mike M is a Production Operator at Gibsons Foods. He adjusts the machinery to make their different products. He didn’t know what he wanted to do when he left school, except that he didn’t want to go to university, so he tried working in a restaurant and being a life guard before he realised he was interested in production machinery.

More information about Food, drink and tobacco process operatives

average salary

The UK average salary is £29,813

average weekly hours

There are 37.5 hours in the average working week

72%  male 
28%  female 

The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male

Future employment

Future employment?

? Food, drink and tobacco process operatives set, operate and attend machinery to bake, freeze, heat, crush, mix, blend and otherwise process foodstuffs, beverages and tobacco leaves.
There are no formal academic entry requirements, though some GCSEs/S grades can be an advantage. Off- and on-the-job training is available. NVQs/ SVQs in Food and Drink Manufacturing Operations are available at Levels 1, 2 and 3. NVQs/SVQs in Tobacco Processing are available at Level 2.
  • Sets, operates and attends machinery and ovens to mix, bake and otherwise prepare bread and flour confectionery products;
  • Operates machinery to crush, mix, malt, cook and ferment grains and fruits to produce beer, wines, malt liquors, vinegar, yeast and related products;
  • Attends equipment to make jam, toffee, cheese, processed cheese, margarine, syrup, ice, pasta, ice-cream, sausages, chocolate, maize starch, edible fats and dextrin;
  • Operates equipment to cool, heat, dry, roast, blanch, pasteurise, smoke, sterilise, freeze, evaporate and concentrate foodstuffs and liquids used in food processing;
  • Mixes, pulps, grinds, blends and separates foodstuffs and liquids with churning, pressing, sieving, grinding and filtering equipment;
  • Processes tobacco leaves by hand or machine to make cigarettes, cigars, pipe and other tobacco products.
Employment by region
Top 10 industries for this job
Food products 65815
Wholesale trade 17143
Food & beverage services 16124
Retail trade 12638
Employment activities 2567
Beverages & tobacco 2263
Agriculture, etc 1286
Employment status

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