Speaking to Food Manufacture, Brodie said: “This is not a temporary labour issue. It is a structural change in the UK labour market that will take years to play out.
“This is the worst skills crisis in our lifetime and is resulting in shortages across the food sector, as being reported on a daily basis in the national media.”
Brodie’s comments coincide with the publication of a major new report from Grant Thornton claiming that of 953,000 current vacancies across all sectors in the UK, more than half are in the food and drink sector.
As a result, the report argues the Government’s approach to the crisis facing food and drink processors was fundamentally flawed. The industry needs to be prioritised, it states, as it employs more than 4.1 million people, making it bigger than the automotive and aerospace sectors combined, and contributing more than £120bn to the UK economy.
Food Manufacture is holding a free webinar, sponsored by Aptean on 9 September from 3pm to 4pm UK time to tackle this hot topic, entitled How to boost food manufacturing productivity in a skills crisis. Sign up now to hear key experts, including Brodie offer advice and support.
He said the situation was primarily caused ‘by a shrinking in the UK labour pool, particularly in certain sectors, which are key for food supply’.
“While it has been exacerbated by furlough and COVID, it is due to a exodus of EU citizens back to their home country that, due to immigration restrictions now in place, cannot be replaced by immigration.