As we head into the summer months, spare a thought for overworked UK farmers who at the peak of the harvesting season are struggling to recruit the workers they need. The National Farmers’ Union has long been lobbying hard for added flexibility in recruitment of non-EEA nationals given the growth in the sector.
The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) is the independent body tasked with advising the government on UK immigration policy. In September 2018, the MAC produced its 140 page report with recommendations for the future post-Brexit immigration system.
Following my blog about labour shortages in the agricultural industry, the government has now announced that it will be launching a “seasonal workers” visa pilot scheme. The aim of this visa is to enable fruit and vegetable farmers to employ non-EU workers for seasonal work, for up to 6 months at a time. But has the Government overlooked a crucial issue by limiting this new visa to horticulture workers?
Data obtained from a freedom of information request shows that in April 2018 a total of 4,325 restricted CoS requests were made, against a quota of only 2,200. Therefore in April’s round of requests more than 2,000 were unsuccessful.
Over the last 5 months employers have advertised their roles and, having found nobody suitable in the resident workforce, made requests for a restricted Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) for various roles.