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Schemes for prisoners and the unemployed to help poultry sector

Chicken on a slaughterline

TWO schemes are separately attempting to utilise prisoners in meat processing plants and recruit unemployed people to help with seasonal turkey production.

Meat industry leaders have met with the government to discuss how businesses could alleviate labour problems by recruiting prisoners on day release.

See also: Poultry.Network Live Conference

The work is coordinated by the New Futures Network (https://newfuturesnetwork.gov.uk/), which brokers partnerships between prisoners and employers in England and Wales.

It can provide prisoners who are part of the Release on Temporary Licence (ROTL) scheme that is designed to give prisoners work experience as they transition back into the community on release.

It is understood that three meat processors are currently working with the organisation.

Seasonal worker support

Meanwhile, the Department for Work and Pensions has explained how it can support businesses recruiting locally for seasonal roles.

Turkey producers who wish to take advantage of the scheme can email bst1.deliveryteam@dwp.gov.uk with details of

  • The number of jobs you have to fill
  • A brief description of the type of work
  • The location with postcode
  • Contact details (phone and email) – please state your preferred method of contact
  • The best time for you to be contacted.

A local jobcentre will then get in touch with free support in listing vacancies and offering guidance on any additional help.

Labour crisis

Labour issues, centred around a shortage of HGV drivers, are significantly impacting food production.

The Association of Independent Meat Suppliers has said there are 14,000 vacancies within their supply chain, and poultry processors have warned of vacancies running to more than 15% in some slaughterhouses.

The British Poultry Council has called on the government to:

  • Include poultry meat supply chain workers on the ‘skilled worker list’ and ‘shortage occupation list’ and reduce unnecessary thresholds on salaries and skills.
  • Extend the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Scheme to the poultry meat sector (agriculture and processing), to protect seasonal demand for poultry meat and Christmas turkeys.
  • Ensure vital food production is at the core of skills and education programmes such as the Lifetime Skills Guarantee and the Apprenticeship Levy to improve the appeal of the sector to build a UK workforce.
  • Urgently conduct the first food security survey as required of them in the new Agriculture Bill.