Forget Christmas, we’ve got a bigger problem for 2022
Nick Allen gave a forthright testimony to the EFRA Committee, describing deteriorating capacity and morale in Britain’s meat processing industry as a result of the chronic labour shortage.
The evidence presented by all participants gave a graphic representation of the breadth and severity of the crisis which has weakened the food supply chain’s resilience. The point was made that Government clearly doesn’t understand the current make up of the UK labour market, which has undergone a huge structural change since Brexit and Covid began taking effect.
Nick and the other speakers delivered a clear description of what needs to happen next. The Government needs to face reality and allow more workers in to the country to take up these jobs immediately. The kind of experienced workers we need simply don’t exist in the UK right now and it will take the next two years to recruit and train British people.
Government needs to review the level of English required of migrant workers. Currently, it’s around A Level standard which is an unnecessary barrier for those seeking a job that requires more manual skill. This would be true of British workers as well. There’s also no mention of food processing in the new T Courses announced this week, and food barely appears in the National Curriculum. This is a two year re-balancing exercise, not a quick fix before Christmas and, come New Year’s Day, this labour crisis will still be strangling the British food industry.