NFU Horticulture Board Chair, Ali Capper, looks at the challenges ahead in 2019 for securing access to seasonal labour.
Happy New Year to you all. As I look forward to 2019 and beyond, the question of UK Horticulture’s reliance on labour continues to be the dominant conversation between the NFU headquarters team and I, closely followed by a long list of other policy issues.
Just before Christmas, the government launched the immigration white paper that is due for a lengthy consultation this year. You can read the white paper here and the NFU initial summary here. Rest assured we will be seeking to define a clear strategy for how to deal with the issues that it raises (focus on high skilled, temporary 1 year option for low skilled, lack of clarity on seasonal labour) and will no doubt be asking you all to join in that lobby.
At the same time we are contributing towards a bid to draw down funds from the Industrial Strategy to achieve the multi-million pound investment required from government to fast-forward the automation of many of the tasks that today’s seasonal labourers undertake.
I would like to take this opportunity to urge any of you who have been asked to complete our End of Season Labour Survey to do so. There’s still time to do this, and I cannot stress enough the importance of this survey, as the findings are essential for supporting our work with government to secure access to seasonal labour. Without the figures from the previous year’s surveys, it is unlikely that we would have secured the Seasonal Workers Pilot.
One of the areas we are also focused on this year is trying to create real clarity and understanding about the high levels of productivity within UK Horticulture and will be producing a paper that we will be sharing widely with members, government officials and ministers. It is so often the case that government officials wrongly pigeon hole our industry as low skilled and low productivity – nothing could be further from the truth!
I wish you all the best for 2019 and look forward to seeing many of you this year at the various meetings and conferences. If you ever wish to get in touch, drop me an email to YWxpY2FwcGVyQG1hYy5jb20=