Page 55 - Farm labour in the UK
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Farm labour in the UK | Accessing the workforce the industry needs
 consideration needs to be given to this in terms of health and safety in the future.
Permanent work
Multiple factors have led to farming as a career becoming an invisible option to potential entrants. At the same time, careers in agriculture have evolved to become more skilled due to advances in technology, and salaries are comparable to other, more popular, industries. In addition, various studies have shown high levels of job satisfaction among people working in farming (Nye 2017b). A career in farming is, therefore, a viable option for many new entrants and recruitment drives need to act fast to bridge the gap which already exists in terms of labour shortfalls. Farms will need to become more competitive and attractive as places to work and the industry itself needs to improve its self-promotion, with any schemes that are introduced being effectively created and supported to succeed. Land managers need to collaborate with relevant industry bodies and educational establishments to ensure the appropriate skills are in place but farmers themselves are also responsible for developing their own skills in management and leadership in order to ensure staff retention and worker satisfaction.
There is no one-size fits all solution to the farm labour crisis in the UK. Automation, migrant workers and domestic labour will all be required to contribute to the country’s food production. Young people, career changers, ex-offenders and service leavers can each form part of the wider solution but no cohort in itself is capable of filling the gaps. At the same time, the agricultural community needs to open itself up to the non-agricultural community in attempts to increase recruitment. Farms, the agricultural industry and the government need to stay vigilant, be flexible, and get creative before the crisis damages the structure of the industry permanently.
For research and policy
➢ The seasonal worker scheme must accommodate the needs of all sectors currently reliant upon migrant workers, including those requiring year round staff, so as not to discriminate between sectors.
➢ Definitions of, and value placed upon, the skills of farm workers need to be revisited by the Migration Advisory Committee to ensure that the farming industry is not disadvantaged by the new immigration policy.
➢ Research should be undertaken to establish the attitudinal baseline of prisoners, service leavers, young people, and potential career changers to identify current attitudes towards careers in agriculture. This should be mirrored with farmers (i.e. their attitudes to employing people from these groups).
➢ Use of online portals should be encouraged to facilitate the exchange of workers between businesses, such as the Association of Labour Provider’s (ALP) Extra Workers Needed Portal.
➢ Introduce new data collection strategies to identify, with more certainty, where labour shortfalls exist across all sectors. This could be led by AHDB.
➢ Defra should commission a thorough evaluation of the seasonal worker pilot scheme prior to introducing any new worker scheme.
➢ Payments under ELMs and other schemes should include ‘social conditionality’ such that any farm payments are conditional upon the social and human rights of farm workers being respected and enforced, and penalties introduced for businesses not adhering to the policy.
➢ Establish a cross sector working group to identify ways to encourage gender and ethnic diversity in recruitment to the industry.
➢ Liaise with the MoD to include explicit inclusion of agricultural opportunities within the Career Transition Partnership.

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