'Pick for Britain' ditched for more targeted approach

Defra’s Pick for Britain campaign, which many businesses said failed to attract the right calibre of workers, has been ditched in favour of a more targeted approach to recruitment.

Hannah Binns
News Reporter
clock • 2 min read
'Pick for Britain' ditched for more targeted approach

Defra's Pick for Britain campaign, which many businesses said failed to attract the right calibre of workers, has been ditched in favour of a more targeted approach to recruitment. 

Speaking to Farmers Guardian, a Defra spokesperson said last year's campaign was a response to Covid-19. 

As such, UK growers with seasonal worker vacancies can now utilise services offered by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to recruit domestic workers.

Acting as a point of contact between businesses and the unemployed, the DWP will help identify candidates that have the right skills and attributes for the roles. 

Covid-19 restrictions as well as the introduction of a points based immigration system which came into force in January 2021, is already impacting on seasonal labour recruitment this year. 

NFU vice-president, Tom Bradshaw, said it was important for businesses to advertise their vacancies and to engage with the DWP.

"Like other developed countries around the world, the UK horticulture sector has been reliant on overseas workers for decades," he said.

"But the UK's new immigration policy means this cannot be the only source of labour and, increasingly so, domestic workers will be needed to fill vacancies and undertake opportunities.

"Building relationships with local Jobcentres is critical to this.

"Their teams have been briefed about the requirements of the sector and will be able to talk to growers about their recruitment needs and identify suitable workers in their area.

"They can also discuss options, such as short-term work trials, which come at no costs to the employer when bringing new people in."

Mr Bradshaw added promoting roles through these channels will enable the DWP to gather evidence on the scale of vacancies, and whether they were filled, which will become important as the season progresses and attention turns to long-term recruitment needs for 2022 and beyond.

Chairman of NFU Scotland's horticultural working group, Iain Brown, told Farmers Guardian recruitment of local workers in 2020 was a 'limited success'.

"That process identified how important it is that all potential local employees are aware of what the work entails and farmers get the right candidates for this physically demanding and potentially highly rewarding work," he said.  

"This approach of directing potential employees to the DWP website will help the recruitment process and NFU Scotland has prepared a briefing on what such jobs entail to assist with that."

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