Labour supply body survey uncovers deepening concerns for the future

Further falls in EU labour supply and deepening concerns for the immediate future are the main findings of the July Association of Labour Providers (ALP) survey of labour provider businesses which supply the workforce to the agriculture and food sectors.

image: USDA

ALP found:

  • 30% of labour providers do not expect to be able to source and supply sufficient workers for the remainder of the Summer 2017 peak (N.B. This is up from 21% who said in February that they did not expect to be able to meet Summer 2017 needs)
  • 45% of labour providers do not expect to be able to source and supply sufficient workers for the 2017 Christmas peak
  • 48% of labour providers report labour supply down compared to the same time in 2016, compared to 22% that report an increase
  • Over 40% of labour providers report that their client businesses have had to increase wage rates to attract workers
  • 50% of labour providers believe that the quality of workers is worse than 12 months ago as opposed to less than 1 in 10 who say that it is better
  • 2 out of 3 labour providers have had to invest more money and resources into sourcing workers thereby further increasing the cost of labour supply

These latest results reinforce the findings of the April 2017 Environment Food and Rural Affairs Committee Report Feeding the nation: labour constraints that "evidence submitted to this inquiry suggests the current problem is in danger of becoming a crisis if urgent measures are not taken to fill the gaps in labour supply".

ALP chief executive David Camp said: "The UK Government should not wait for labour supply to the horticultural and food manufacturing sectors to fail with the devastating impact this will have on UK businesses.

"We are reassured that Defra is now convening a multi-stakeholder group to look at designing a model Seasonal Agricultural Workers’ Permit Based Quota Scheme fit for the foreseeable future.

"We call upon Defra to ensure the validity of official data on which employment and immigration policies will be based before and after the UK leaves the EU and to be a leader and a champion for the whole UK food supply chain in terms of ensuring adequate labour supply".

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