Overcoming Worker Shortages?
How Do Farms Overcome The Brexit Worker Shortage?
Brexit is happening, and whether you are for or against it, there is no denying that the result is having an impact on our economy. The farming sector has been struggling since the announcement in June 2016.
Farmers across the UK have found themselves extremely understaffed during seasonal peaks, leading to rotting crops, massive loss of income and exhausting workloads for the workers they do have. There is more pressure than ever on an already stretched industry, who desperately need our support.
But why is there a worker shortage and what can be done to help?
It’s been reported that in 2017 60% of growers were left understaffed during harvesting season, which lead to 30% of farmers having no choice but to leave crops to rot in fields. According to an article via The Independent enough broccoli to feed 15,000 people for a year was wasted in 2017, resulting in the farm losing £30,000 to £50,000. Now we are in Spring 2018, there are fears that the situation will worsen.
Part of the problem is the drop of the pound against the euro. Europeans who would usually travel to the UK during picking season to work are choosing not to as the earnings are simply less appealing. Another fear and problem for farmers is that the workers who are still travelling to work on farms in the UK from Europe, may not be able to in the near future should the restriction of movement through the EU be confirmed.
The National Farmers Union (NFU) are calling for changes to be made to the existing seasonal agricultural workers scheme (SAWS). The scheme means farmers can employ workers across the globe to travel to the UK to pick fruit and vegetables for 6 months under visa-controlled schemes. However, changes are required for the scheme to work more efficiently, reversing the worker shortage. Collectively, the farms throughout the UK require around 80,000 temporary seasonal workers to complete the season successfully. The SAWS is currently capped at 21,000 visa’s because the freedom of movement rules in the EU allowing for European workers to fill the remaining vacancies easily. For the scheme to successfully reverse the worker shortage, this cap needs to be increased significantly. It’s now a case of waiting to see if the changes will be implemented, and the NFU are pushing to see this happen.
Another viable option to fill farm vacancies is to employ within the UK. The struggle is to connect farmers with an available temporary workforce willing to take on the seasonal work. The UK’s unemployment rate is dropping fast, and seasonal work is notoriously difficult to fill. However, there are pools of people across the country, looking for flexible, varying work who are willing to turn their hands to anything. We call them Grafters. We’ve recently reached 12,000 users on our platform and growing on a daily basis. It’s our mission to connect businesses with Grafters at the touch of a button.
The NFU is working hard to secure new policies to protect our farmers and their futures. To follow the development and find out how you can support your local farmers, head over to their website.