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Employers say skills gap will further deteriorate after Brexit

12th February 2018

Hand picking apple

Britain’s businesses are concerned that the current skills shortage will be made worse by Brexit this year. Employers not only believe that the skills shortage will continue to affect business in 2018, half believe that Brexit is going to make finding the correct staff even harder.

Employers are now having to look at training and upskilling workers for roles that need to be filled, or widening their search brackets, however that isn’t possible for certain sectors. A prime example of this is Kent-based fruit farm company Adrian Scripps. Adrian Scripps is one of Britain’s biggest fruit growers supplying companies like Tesco. They grow and pack a large variety of English fruit, especially various types of apples but also pears and grapes, and they rely heavily on EU workers to pick the fruit.

In a recent interview, James Simpson, the firm’s managing director said: “Whilst the weather is normally the biggest risk we face, the Brexit vote has overshadowed that.” As fruit picking is seasonal work, Adrian Scripps employs around 220 fruit pickers every year from the EU, who, under Brexit, will no longer be able to come to Britain for seasonal work. This is causing major uncertainty for Adrian Scripps, and other business who are unsure how much longer they will be able to continue trading without EU workers.

Looking Closer To Home

Unfortunately, it is not a case of looking closer to home as Simpson states: “It doesn’t matter how much we advertise or try to recruit locally we are unable to fill the harvesting vacancies we have with local staff.” When it comes to other careers, employers will have to look towards candidates with other skill sets that may become transferable, but in the cases of business like Adrian Scripps it’s harder to find candidates to fulfil labour intensive short-term seasonal work. Scripps is even looking into robotic alternatives but believe they will not come quickly enough to repla​ce the lost workers.

As Brexit negotiations continue, employers fear they are going to have a struggle on their hands to source employees. If the laws and issues surrounding Brexit are something you take an interest in and you’d like to get involved, there are many legal jobs available.