As we start 2018, many workers from eastern Europe have chosen not to return to Britain this year.  This has left a significant labour shortage across a number of industries, most significantly for us at Powell & Co. in construction, agriculture and food production.

Staff on site

Dr Richard Byrne (Harper Adams University) writes today “Agri-tech is not going to fill the gap immediately and the UK needs to make agriculture a more attractive career option for Britons.” 

Whilst there are many stories of unharvested fresh produce left to rot it’s not just horticulture which is vulnerable to labour loss.  Much of the meat processing industry is heavily reliant on EU workers.  Many of these have worked in the industry for many years, being trained to take on the responsibility of management positions and are making significant contributions to developing new systems and markets.  In construction too we can see the same pattern.  Fears over Brexit causing skilled workers to question their future working in the UK when their skills are esaily transferable to other European countries.

In his article, Dr Byrne goes on to calls on the UK goverment to provide a surety of labour supply. The recent Oxford Farming Conference emphasised again and again that long term business planning is key in the agricultural sector.  Amongst the host of other factors discussed at Oxford, producers need to enter into contracts knowing they have the competent workers they require.

We join the call not only to invest in technology and systems but to invest in people.  We started the year by taking a couple of hours out to spend time with all the staff at Powell & Co. involving them in our business plans and communicating the importance we give to them.