The Food Industry Recruitment Crisis

Solving the Problems

The Food Industry Recruitment Crisis – Solving the Problems

Is your business one of the 70% of food and beverage manufacturing companies struggling to recruit and retain low and unskilled workers?

It’s no secret that the food and drink industry is facing real challenges when it comes to labour. In April 2017, the House of Commons EFRA (Environmental Food and Rural Affairs) Committee concluded that the agricultural and horticultural sectors are in danger of facing a real crisis unless urgent measures are taken to fill the gaps in the labour market supply.

In this post, we examine the problems, looking at the latest statistics from the ALP (Association of Labour Providers) and providing some practical, immediate solutions for businesses in the sector who are struggling with the labour shortage.

UK Food Chain Recruitment Shortfall – The Statistics

The latest ALP submission to the EFRA committee (January 22nd 2018), highlighted 10 key findings about the current labour market:

  1. EU unemployment is low at just 7.3%. It is falling fast, and approaching its record levels of 6.8%.
  2. 70% of labour providers were unable to meet their food industry clients’ needs for seasonal labour over Christmas 2017.
  3. 64% reported a decrease in the number of worker applications for the Christmas 2017 peak period. Just 16% reported an increase.
  4. 43% of labour providers expect they will be unable to supply enough workers to satisfy the demand of their food manufacturing and distribution clients in 2018.
  5. 49% of labour providers do not think they will be able to supply enough seasonal workers to the agricultural sector over the year ahead.
  6. 70% of food and drink manufacturers are currently struggling or in crisis when it comes to the supply of low and unskilled workers.
  7. 71% of food and drink manufacturers anticipate a low and unskilled labour shortage over the year ahead, with 1 in 3 predicting a widespread labour supply crisis.
  8. 60% of agricultural and horticultural businesses are experiencing labour shortages in low and unskilled roles. 1 in 8 are currently in crisis.
  9. 75% of agricultural and horticultural businesses expect shortages in low and unskilled roles in 2018, and more than 1 in 4 expect a labour supply crisis.
  10. Both food growers and manufacturers are reporting a major impact of the labour crisis in terms of: increased costs, relocation, scaling down and threats to business viability.

Food & Drink Industry Labour Crisis – Conclusions

If you’re in the food and drink industry, the report above doesn’t make for positive reading!

Low unemployment in the UK and across the EU, the relative weakness of the pound, Brexit uncertainty and difficulties in recruiting low skilled labour from within the UK are all making it much harder for businesses in the sector to recruit and keep personnel.

Solving the Food Industry Labour Crisis

Going forward, there will need to be some real solutions at a political level if we are to avoid a real crisis.

As yet, there are no real long term solutions in place – but these might include:

  • The development of domestic labour through apprenticeships
  • Streamlining the VISA system and immigration processes to minimise delays
  • Adapting the post-Brexit immigration policy and encouraging full-time workers to come and live in the UK, rather than focusing on seasonal workers
  • Prioritising low-skilled and unskilled workers from both within and outside the EU
  • A points based immigration system that enables low-skilled workers to come in as a stop-gap solution to specific labour shortages

However – these are all mid to long-term solutions.

Managing the crisis in the short term, comes down to effective recruitment. Taking a proactive approach, creating a clear strategy and finding a dependable labour provider to partner with can all help businesses in the sector to weather the labour shortage and retain low-skilled workers.

Proven recruitment support from Prestige

At Prestige Recruitment, we have an excellent track record in supporting businesses across the food and drink industry. Over the past year, despite the challenging conditions, we have delivered 100% supply to all our clients – and that’s something we will continue to work tirelessly to maintain over the coming year.

We’re trusted by some of the food chain’s biggest users of temporary labour, and take a proactive approach to recruitment - working specifically with clients to create and deliver an effective recruitment strategy that meets requirements exactly.

Where clients need large volumes of low-skilled workers, we push hard to fill these roles quickly, conducting targeted, localised recruitment drives and active marketing programmes that are proven to deliver results.

For additional information, or proactive food and drinks industry recruitment support, contact your local Prestige office today.

Posted: Tue 13 Feb 2018
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