Election 2017

New government ‘must deal with labour shortages’

Horticulture will be ‘devastated’ without a quota-based workers’ scheme

The next UK government has been urged to address the “impending labour shortages” faced by the food industry pre- and post-Brexit, after the immigration minister claimed the problem had been overstated.

The Association of Labour Providers (ALP) has called on whoever gets elected on June 8 to design a model seasonal workers’ permit-based quota scheme to avoid the “devastating impact” a failing UK horticultural sector would have on the food supply chain.

The ALP made its comments in evidence submitted to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee inquiry into the challenges to the food supply chain from shortages of workers.

Fears about the labour market

It followed oral evidence given in March to the EFRA Committee by Robert Goodwill, minister of state for immigration at the Home Office. Goodwill said fears about the labour market had proven to be “a bit of a scare story”, adding that “we have not seen people being deterred from coming here”.

Goodwill justified his argument by referring to the latest net migration figures, which for the EU ran at 165,000 for the year to September 2016. Overall net migration figures were 273,000 for the same period.

Last month, the ALP submitted a further evidence-based submission to the inquiry, which included the results of a survey of its members. It found that 21% of labour providers did not expect to be able to source sufficient workers this summer.

Quality of labour was worse

Furthermore, the survey revealed a third of labour providers believed the quality of labour was worse than 12 months ago – in contrast to fewer than one in 10 that said it was better. Meanwhile, four out of 10 client businesses have had to increase wage rates to attract workers.

“Government should not wait for labour supply to the UK horticultural sector to fail before rushing in a hasty and ill-thought-through seasonal agricultural workers’ scheme,” said ALP chief executive David Camp.

“Whether introduced in 2018 or 2019, such a scheme will be needed in the foreseeable future. ALP and other industry trade bodies will support the government in designing a model scheme.”

For the latest career opportunities in food and drink manufacturing, visit FoodManJobs

FoodManufactureJobs Set up a Job Alert

Related News

Baroness Susan Kramer, Liberal Democrat shadow business secretary

What a Lib Dem victory would mean for food manufacturing

The food and drink sector reacts to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's pledges (Flickr/Chatham House)

Food and drink sector reacts to Labour’s manifesto

The Liberal Democrats were right to place the economy at the heart of its manifesto, according to CBI (Flickr/Liberal Democrats)

Manufacturing sector reacts to Lib Dems’ manifesto

The average age of manufacturers has risen after difficulties in recruiting younger workers

Ageing workforce puts skills ‘at risk of disappearing’

Agri-food must not be a Brexit sacrificial pawn

Agri-food must not be a Brexit sacrificial pawn

The UK public voted for a hung parliament last night

Next government ‘must support food and drink firms’

Michael Gove was appointed Environment Secretary on June 11 (Flickr/Policy Exchange)

New DEFRA boss Gove is a ‘heavy hitter’: FDF

Dominic Watkins said labour had to be the starting point for discussions on food and drink manufacturing challenges

Food industry labour and regulations are top challenges

Food manufacturers face the worst labour crisis in more than a decade

Food manufacturers face huge labour crisis

Food manufacturer's labour costs may go up after Brexit, DWF partner Hannah Robbins said

Food firms face higher labour costs after Brexit

Labour turnover has continued to fall year-on-year, as manufacturing workers increasingly prefer to sit tight

Labour turnover falls again – as workers sit tight

Delegates took to Twitter during the Oxford Farming Conference, using the hashtag #OFC17

Migrant labour fears dominate conference tweets

The food industry needs more automation to compensate for the loss of EU workers

Automation needed to avert a labour crisis

Submit a comment

Your comment has been saved

Post a comment

Please note that any information that you supply is protected by our Privacy and Cookie Policy. Access to all documents and request for further information are available to all users at no costs, In order to provide you with this free service, William Reed Business Media SAS does share your information with companies that have content on this site. When you access a document or request further information from this site, your information maybe shared with the owners of that document or information.