Recruiters supply the people businesses need to ensure Christmas runs smoothly. Imagine what would happen if there weren’t enough workers within agriculture and food production? Watch our animation below.
Behind this tongue-in-cheek video is a serious message. While we are all starting to think about what we will be eating on Christmas day, most of us take it for granted that we have everything in ready supply and we don’t tend to think about the staffing needed to ensure this.
Recent research has found that in the run up to Christmas the poultry industry alone requires around 13,000 seasonal workers primarily for the processing of turkeys. The horticulture sector also requires over 80,000 seasonal workers over the year. The vast majority of these roles are currently undertaken by EU nationals. A large amount of these roles will be filled by recruiters.
Labour shortages have been exacerbated since the EU referendum
However, over a number of years there have been growing concerns of labour shortages. This has been exacerbated since the Brexit vote last year with many EU nationals being deterred from coming to the UK to work and the number of ‘returnees’ coming back for the picking season dropping.
The National Farmers Union’s (NFU) monthly survey of labour providers in September showed a shortfall of seasonal workers at 29.3 per cent, which brings the average shortfall for the year to 11 per cent. In May alone, there were more than 1,500 unfilled vacancies on British farms and this has led to reduced picking and in some extreme cases no harvest.
What is the REC doing to help?
We have published three bespoke reports looking at Brexit and immigration and have met with over 50 policymakers, from No 10 to MPs and Peers to members of the Welsh and Scottish governments.
We most recently published Ready, willing and able? looking at how the UK labour market can meet demand in a number of sectors including agriculture after Brexit and made a number of tangible recommendations. We urge the government to give further clarity and assurance to EU workers and condemn any instances of xenophobia. This is especially important in the lead up to Christmas to ensure EU nationals return after the festive period.
We call for there to be provision made for temporary workers and seasonal workers in any new immigration system. Finally, we urge for there not to be an overestimation of automation and UK nationals being able to plug any labour shortages post-Brexit – as our research demonstrates this is not realistic.
What is real is the contribution that our industry plays in ensuring Christmas runs smoothly. Jobs transform Christmas so please share our clip to show the important role recruiters play.