An East Yorkshire-based poultry supplier recently welcomed an MP to discuss the worsening employment and skills gap situation.
Graham Stuart, MP for Beverley and Holderness, visited Middleton on the Wolds business, Soanes Poultry to review investment, job creation through expansion and a new training hub set up to upskill the workforce and make Soanes a go to employer for the area.
Also on the agenda was the subject of labour shortages.
Nigel Upson, managing director of Soanes Poultry, fears that Mr Stuart and the government are clearly unaware of, or unwilling to accept, the crisis that is facing the industry.
Mr Upson said: “Last week, we were 20% down on staff. As a consequence, we have had to scale back production and have had to temporarily shut the new training hub because we can’t release staff from processing for training.
“If we lose any more of the team, we will be forced to cut back production even further. This will cause shortages for our customers and consumers, halt investment and have wider impacts for our supply chain and our support for the local economy.
“The crazy thing is there are still people being paid to stay at home on furlough when the country is struggling for staff to produce food and other essential items.”
Mr Stuart said it was really interesting to see the significant investment Soanes Poultry has put into the company over the last couple of years.
Mr Stuart added: “I know my colleagues in the Treasury, the Home Office and the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs have been engaging extensively with the sector in recognition of the issues it’s facing.
“However, I know from speaking to Nigel that there are still improvements to be made and that there could be more of a focus on his industry. All these various issues being at play is why I’m urgently seeking meetings with Ministers to raise Nigel’s concerns with them.”