Page 49 - Farm labour in the UK
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➢ Make sure any strategy is realistic.
Farm labour in the UK | Accessing the workforce the industry needs their training. The farms also run at a significant
Several barriers exist which potentially impede the recruitment of ex-offenders to farming businesses. The first of these is stigmatisation and discrimination. As one interviewee said:
“Employing ex-offenders is not a binary issue, it’s a significantly complex issue that requires a business to make significant policy decisions. So if you’ve got two hundred workers sharing accommodation and things start going missing and you’ve employed people who have been convicted of burglary then this raises questions. However, I’ve painted a very negative picture there. If you actually look at the positives of employing ex- offenders that’s another issue but that can only come down to individual farm decisions” (Labour expert 1)
Such stigmatisation might not only come from the farmer but also from their employees, the surrounding community and even some prison workers. There is a belief among interviewees that not everybody is pro-rehabilitation when it comes to offenders .
“The critical question is what are prisons for? They have these three objectives in the documentation: public safety, so they are there to serve the public [and] they are there to provide security, so just keep people in. And they are there to rehabilitate. And the tensions between those is where all of those sit” (Ex-offenders 1)
 “I think that the challenges are going to be regional. I was getting quite involved with whether we could send people to fruit pick, for example. In that case you would be putting people in a caravan for an indeterminate period of time for a job that wasn’t suitable because there would be no support. She said ‘it is a bit like putting them back in prison. They are going to be stuck in this thing with somebody they might not like and they won’t have immediate access to anybody and quite frankly I don’t think it is a great idea’. However, if you said that you would possibly relate it to regions where there are prisons or there are specific organizations, I think you would be in a very good position” (Ex- offenders 3)
➢ If recruiting directly from within prisons, you need an efficient strategy in place to streamline the process and ensure that only those deemed as ‘work ready’ are presented as interviewees. This can be achieved by giving the prison a list of criteria or a job specification and asking them to match potential individuals as closely as possible to these criteria.
Any strategy to match employers to prisoners or ex- offenders needs some commitment from the farming industry itself to go in and promote careers, as few prisoners today will be aware of the potential of agriculture as an industry within which to work.
Elsewhere in the world such initiatives have been effective. New Zealand’s Department of Corrections, for example, offers training in agriculture (among other industries) via prison farms in the form of dairy farms, dry stock farms, piggeries, sheep farms and several nurseries (Department of Corrections 2021), training approximately 400 prisoners a year. Prisoners are able to gain a vocational qualification following

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