Monday, September 16, 2019

Call for action over shortage of farm workers

June 4, 2019 by  
Filed under News & Business

Farm leaders have voiced their frustration after government advisers appeared to dismiss suggestions of a job shortage in agriculture.

It came after the government’s Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) recommended that agriculture be excluded from its list of jobs in short supply which need to be filled by non-UK workers post-Brexit.

Despite NFU warnings of a jobs shortage in farming, the committee’s review of the official Shortage Occupation List excluded agricultural workers – but included roles such as dance choreographers and artists.

NFU president Minette Batters said the union had provided details of a range of critical jobs that many non-UK workers perform on farms at all skill levels. These included roles such as dairy herdspeople and poultry technicians, she added.

Serious implications

Ms Batters said: “The NFU is staggered that farming has been ignored in this way and that the MAC has failed to recognise the needs of our industry, and the implications for shoppers wanting to continue to buy affordable high-quality British food.

“The consultation was poorly managed, with events arranged at just 48 hours’ notice. These events were supposed to gather evidence on those occupations in shortage across all skill levels, highlighting the need for experience, aptitude and knowledge.”

The NFU has warned that access to overseas workers may be restricted after the UK leaves the European Union. This would exacerbate a jobs shortage already affecting kley agricultural sectors, including horticulture.

Limited numbers

Ms Batters said: “If we can’t get some of these permanent roles on the Shortage Occupation List, we will be limited purely to UK-based workers to fill those jobs. We know, with the country at near full employment, the numbers are just not there.”

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