If you are currently out of work, there is one industry that has an urgent need for workers as a result of the coronavirus.
Every year the British farming industry must fill 90,000 seasonal vacancies for people to pick fruit and vegetables and bring in the harvest. These vacancies are usually covered by around 60,000 people across the season, mostly migrants from elsewhere in Europe. With borders closed, countries in lockdown and flights cancelled, many of these seasonal labourers will not be coming to the UK this year, leaving a massive shortfall and fears of crops being left to rot in the fields.
A number of organisations are trying to recruit a “land army” to fill this gap. British Growers and the National Farmers Union, among others, have come together to launch the “Pick for Britain” campaign.
Another campaign, “Feed the Nation”, is also trying to recruit new people to work on the farms. Concordia, a charity which normally helps young people arrange experiences abroad, and two recruitment companies, Hops Labour Solutions and Fruitful Jobs, have come together to form the Alliance of Ethical Labour Providers. They are currently looking for people to work from mid to late May onwards.
Industry body British Summer Fruits is also recruiting. Their website has a map showing fruit-picking vacancies across the country.
Farm work is not easy. It involves hard physical work, early starts and long hours. Farms tend not to be conveniently located near major towns and cities, so you may have to live on site. The farms are also looking for people they can train and who are prepared to stay for a significant chunk of the harvest – these are not jobs that you can turn up and do for a couple of weeks. For all these reasons these campaigns still have thousands of jobs to fill. It is hard work but you could play a part in keeping British produce on the shelves.
A comprehensive list of where to find work can be found here: https://pickforbritain.org.uk/jobs/