The bosses of Asda, Morrisons, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose are to attend a meeting in Downing Street today to discuss youth unemployment.

New Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Owen Paterson will meet grocery chiefs at 10 Downing Street this morning.

The meeting marks the start of the Feeding Britain’s Future - Skills for Work Week campaign, coordinated by industry body IGD.

After meeting the industry chiefs the Prime Minister and Paterson will meet a group of young retail employees.

Paterson told The Daily Telegraph: “The food sector is helping to drive the UK’s economic recovery and has ambitious plans for further growth, seizing the export opportunities offered by soaring global demand for high-quality British products.

“But this will only happen if we get the right people into the right jobs, and give them the skills to use new ideas and technology to keep UK businesses at the forefront of the global food industry.”

During Skills for Work Week, which kicks off on September 17, the industry will be offering free training in 700 locations across the UK and about 10,000 young people are expected to visit farms and factories.