Soanes Poultry invests in training as labour shortages hit

By Gwen Ridler

- Last updated on GMT

Soanes has launched a new training hub as labour shortages hit
Soanes has launched a new training hub as labour shortages hit

Related tags Training & recruitment

Soanes Poultry has invested in a new training facility at its Middleton on the Wolds factory as the industry continues to feel the sting of a shortage of labour in the wake of Brexit.

The manufacturer has launched a new training hub as part of a series of initiatives to recruit and retain employees, in partnership with Hull-based Sutton Recruitment.

Soanes is now recruiting for packaging and processing operatives on a part time or full time basis on permanent and temporary contracts

Managing director Nigel Upson said that despite a £1.5m investment over the past two years to increase capacity, the business has been forced the reduce the number of chicks it reared due to a lack of labour the process them. This in turn led the business to pursue new avenues to boost recruitment.

‘Perfect storm’

“Brexit and coronavirus have created a perfect storm that has resulted in 1.3m EU workers returning to their own countries and this has had a significant impact on production,” ​he added.

“In addition to the training hub, we have introduced several initiatives to encourage new recruits, including flexible ‘school day shifts', refer a friend incentives, a training website and guaranteed career progression for the right candidates.”

Shortages to labour supply have already begun to impact the UK poultry industry, with the British Poultry Council (BPC) reporting a 10% decrease in throughput because of a shortage of workers across farming and processing.

BPC chief executive Richard Griffiths said: “We generally operate in areas of high local employment so there is a limit to availability of UK workers and there is negligible appetite from UK workers to move from other parts of the country.

‘Immigration barriers’

“When it comes to non-UK labour – either from the EU or further afield – we have seen reducing numbers willing to come to the UK, the immigration barriers of salary and skill have been raised way beyond what we can manage, and the cost of bringing people is being prohibitive.”

Griffiths called on the Government to support the industry and approach the labour shortage as a national security issue.

Losing control of how we feed ourselves as a nation would undermine British food producers at a time when we should be looking to use Brexit as an opportunity to take matters of food security and nutrition into our own hands,”​ he added.

Meanwhile, ABP UK has launched a new training and development programme​ to help upskill staff and develop new entrants into the food and drink industry.

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