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New UK policy makes it more difficult for Brits to re-train for meat industry jobs

12 February 2021

The British meat industry has had a long-running problem with sourcing labour, and that has just been exacerbated by two recent Government decisions.

Nick Allen, CEO of The British Meat Processors Association Explains: “Currently, not enough British people come forward to work in meat plants, which means the shortfall in staff has to be filled by overseas workers. They have traditionally come from the EU and make up between 50-80 percent of the workforce in meat plants.

“From now onwards, as a result of Brexit, we’re facing an exodus of our EU staff who will leave behind a big gap in the productive capacity of Britain’s meat processing industry. And Government has just made it doubly difficult to plug that gap.”

In November they announced that Butchers will not be included on the Shortage Occupation List, despite strenuous recommendations that they should from both the Migration Advisory Committee and, in the last few days, the Environment Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee. This constrains the supply of overseas labour. You can read about this in more detail here.

Then in December, the Department for Education failed to include any food and drink courses, but specifically butchery courses, from the list of Level 3 adult courses eligible for the £95 million Lifetime Skills Guarantee. This puts up a barrier to re-training newly unemployed British workers as the home-grown butchers and meat processors of the future.

Mr Allen added: “By removing funding for this kind of lifetime skills retraining, the Government is making it difficult for the people who need to find new jobs and for the companies that desperately need more staff. With both the demand for and supply of British workers clearly there, adding food and drink qualifications to the Lifetime Skills Guarantee would bring the two together and be a win/win for Government. And this is what we are calling for”.



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