Friday, December 15, 2017

UK workforce unlikely to fill dairy labour shortage

August 1, 2017 by  
Filed under Livestock

Only 4% of UK adults would consider working on a dairy farm, suggests a survey – casting doubt on whether British workers could ease a post-Brexit labour shortage. 

Carried out in early June, the survey of over 2,000 people found that even people who consider working in a rural location attractive would be reluctant to work on a dairy farm. The YouGov survey was commissioned by the Royal Association of British Dairy Farmers.

Furthermore, a lower percentage of skilled or qualified adults in the UK are likely to consider a job in dairy farming (9%) compared with semi (19%) or low-skilled workers (12%), despite competitive pay.

RABDF chairman Mike King said the survey highlighted that there was an image problem with dairy farming. And he suggested that British workers would not be relied upon to plug labour any post-Brexit labour shortages.

Disappear

“EU workers currently fill a large number of roles in dairy farming, which are varied and largely permanent. But post-Brexit, we could see access to that labour disappear. The survey indicates many UK workers simply don’t like the thought of some of the features of dairy farming.”

The least popular task is working with machinery – only 17% of all UK adults would consider it acceptable if they were applying for a job now. Just 27% would consider a job involving animals, and working in a rural location was deemed acceptable by only 36%.

“This, coupled with the tail-off in interest when people realise the role is in dairy farming, shows we need to take a long term look at the image we portray but also secure access to the labour we need in the short term.”

Permanent labour

The dairy sector had very different labour needs compared with other farming sectors – such as fresh produce businesses which rely on seasonal unskilled labour from EU countries, said Mr King. Other respondents said they didn’t like he need for flexible hours or working outside.

“Even for dairy farms which calve seasonally rather than year-round, labour requirements are relatively static with a big emphasis on skilled or qualified permanent labour to cope with the shift towards precision-based management of animals, forage and land.”

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