The food sector is suffering from a shortage of workers – and a call is going out to the unemployed, redundant, students and those looking for work to help feed the nation.
The Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership is signposting people to the various schemes that have been put in place to boost the area’s food and farming workforce.
“Greater Lincolnshire is the food capital of the UK, producing one-eighth of all England’s food,” said Sarah Louise Fairburn, Chair of the Greater Lincolnshire Food Board and a Director of the Greater Lincolnshire LEP.
“During the pandemic our area has a key role to play in helping to keep food in our shops.
“The last month has seen unprecedented demand for food in our supermarkets and I have seen this at first hand in our business, Fairburn Eggs. I am really proud of how Lincolnshire businesses have responded in helping to keep food on the nation’s shelves.
“However, we cannot be complacent because many of our food chain businesses need extra staff now to manage the increased demand.
“In Lincolnshire we are also the centre of the UK fresh produce sector, and as the peak harvest period for salads and vegetables approaches we will need even more staff from the end of April.”
Many food companies in Greater Lincolnshire, from farms and food processors to distributors and retailers, are now looking to urgently recruit extra staff.
“Whether you are unemployed, someone who has recently been made redundant or a student, our food chain would welcome your help as we work to keep the nation fed through this difficult time.”
A number of schemes have been set up to help get more staff into the food chain, with rapid application processes, usually with an online interview and then quick placement in a job.
National schemes which can help you to get jobs in the food industry include:
- The Feed the Nation scheme has direct links to Morrisons, Tesco, Sainsburys, Ocado and Staffline, as well as major local employers including 2 Sisters Food Group, Karro and Tulip. Tens of thousands of jobs are available now.
- If you are an employer with surplus staff who need to be redeployed, the LEP is supporting a national initiative from the Food and Drink Federation and Association of Labour Providers. They have jointly set up the Spare Workers Availability Portal (SWAP), which connects employers with excess staff to those with shortages.
- In the next few days, the National Farmers Union is expected to launch its Pick for Britain programme to recruit the workforce needed to bring in the harvest. An extra 70,000 people are needed to harvest crops from late April onwards.
- In the next week, the Essential Workers Needed programme is expected to launch which will allow food sector employers who need extra staff to make this known to the team running the SWAP programme, so that supply and demand can be matched.
Updates on and links to all these schemes can be found on the Greater Lincolnshire LEP website.