British farms face seasonal worker shortages following European competition

29 May 2020, 14:17 PM
  • Early lifting of lockdown could attract agricultural workers
British farms face seasonal worker shortages following European competition

Following campaigns to recruit Brits to fill seasonal agriculture jobs, local farms now face further shortages as they face competition from other European nations.

Amidst the coronavirus crisis, Brits were called in to work on farms during harvesting season. It came as restrictions on movement meant seasonal workers usually brought in from overseas weren’t able to travel to the UK. With huge campaigns rolled out across Britain seeking furloughed workers, a small percentage of seasonal agriculture jobs were soon filled by domestic workers. Yet with many of these having never worked on a farm before, some now say that productivity has fallen drastically over recent weeks as a result.

With furloughed workers expected to be able to return to work soon, British farms are being faced with further shortages. It comes at a time when other European nations begin lifting lockdown earlier than the UK, with countries like Germany also offering tax incentives. The perception of the UK’s handling of the pandemic and resulting restrictions could also have a part to play, putting off many workers from travelling here to work for fear of having to go through quarantine.

That said, British workers could still prove useful. New data revealed by recruitment company Debut Careers revealed that online searches for “fruit picking jobs” rose a whopping 843% between 23 March and 15 May this year. With the country’s peak soft fruit season approaching, growers and producers could be turning to local hands once again. Pick for Britain is also continuing its campaign to recruit Brits, with farms and small businesses still able to advertise job openings online.

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