NFU responds to Shortage Occupation List consultation

Tom Bradshaw_56104

The NFU has submitted its response to the MAC’s Shortage Occupation List (SOL) consultation, providing an extensive outline of the farming industry’s needs when it comes to a permanent workforce.

The consultation response highlights that, with freedom of movement due to cease at the end of 2020 and given the government’s plans for a points-based system, it is absolutely crucial that agricultural roles are recognised within the Shortage Occupation List.

At the moment no agricultural roles are included within the list.

NFU Vice President Tom Bradshaw said: “The NFU has long been emphasising the importance of a thriving UK food and farming sector – something which has very much been in the spotlight during the coronavirus pandemic – and this means having the people needed, with the right skills, to get our food from farm to fork.

“Overseas workers make up a large and crucial part of our permanent workforce, whether it’s working with livestock, farm machinery or in processing plants, and the importance of their role in providing food for the nation can’t be understated.

“It is essential that these roles are recognised as being in shortage. Most farm jobs fall below the government’s salary threshold of £25,600, and with businesses struggling to increase wages due to ever increasing pressures for cheap food, the SOL is likely to be the only way to achieve the points needed under the government’s new immigration system.”

The SOL consultation operated on a very tight turnaround of only six weeks, but in that time more than 650 members responded to the NFU’s survey.

Mr Bradshaw added: “I would like to thank everyone who responded to our survey. It’s fantastic to have had so many responses, especially given the MAC’s unusually short timeframe.

“Because of this overwhelming response from our members we have been able to submit an extensive, evidence-based report which showcases the value of overseas workers throughout the supply chain and the need to be able to access their skills through our immigration system.

“I look forward to seeing the MAC’s recommendations to government and hope they have taken on board the evidence put forward by the farming industry.”

Shortage roles cited

All of these roles were cited by at least 50% of respondents, ranking from the highest percentage of respondents citing shortage to the lowest:

Medium to high skilled roles

  • Live Bird Handlers/Catchers   
  • Mushroom Cutter/Picker
  • Harvest Operatives 
  • Dairy Herdsperson
  • Horticulture Operator/worker
  • Potato operator/worker
  • Horticulture Supervisor
  • Potato Supervisor
  • Hatchery Operative  
  • Assistant Flock Managers without high level managerial responsibility    
  • Dairy Herd Manager/Assistant Dairy Herd Manager without high level responsibility
  • Flock Managers without high level managerial responsibility
  • Day Old Chick Sexer/Vent Sexer
  • Relief Milker
  • Calf Rearer  
  • Livestock Assistant Herd Manager without high level responsibility
  • Flock Managers with high level responsibility
  • Assistant Flock Managers with high level responsibility   
  • Livestock Herd Manager without high level responsibility
  • Agricultural Mechanics
  • Dairy Herd Manager/Assistant Dairy Herd Manager with high level responsibility 
  • Feed Wagon Operator
  • Livestock Assistant Herd Managers with higher level managerial responsibility  
  • Horticulture Manager with higher level managerial responsibility
  • Potato Manager with higher level managerial responsibility
  • Horticulture Technician/Technical Manager with higher level managerial responsibility

Entry level roles

  • Field Workers
  • Roguers/Hand Weeders  
  • General Farm Worker  
  • Horticulture/Potato Grader  
  • Herdsperson or Stockperson/Assistant Herdsperson or Stockperson
  • Horticultural Quality Control Operator
  • Poultry Shed Cleaner
  • Poultry Egg Grader 
  • Tractor Drivers/Agricultural Machinery Drivers

Wider supply chain shortages

Medium to high skilled roles

  • Butchers
  • Vets (Official Veterinary Surgeon in Slaughterhouse/Official Veterinary Surgeon in Abbattoir/Abbattoir Managers/Farm Vets/Large Animal Vets)
  • Agricultural Engineers and Mechanics 

Entry level roles

  • Poultry pluckers, gutters, dressers, processors
  • Slaughterhouse Processors
  • Meat Processors including slaughter and boning staff
  • Packhouse Operators/Operatives
  • Meat Packers
  • Carcass classification and grading officers, egg graders
  • HGV Drivers/Lorry Drivers (e.g. egg wagon driver, feed wagon driver) 
  • Fork lift truck drivers

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