Date Published: 31-08-2017

It’s been over a year since the vote to leave the EU and for businesses and workers from EU countries it’s been an uncertain time to say the least. We’ve all seen and felt the effects of the vote.  For consumers the weak pound has pinched our pockets when we’re going on holiday and led to products we know and love going up in price here in the UK.  However for UK based manufacturers the weak pound has led to increased overseas demand for their products and rising exports.

Last week we got the news that net migration to the UK fell by 81,000 to 246,000 in the year to March 2017 which is a significant number, and unsurprisingly more than half of that change is from EU citizens which is down 51,000. This means that the UK Government are getting closer to hitting their targets of reducing net migration to below 100,000, but it’s far from a good thing.  Many skilled workers who have been employed in the Food Manufacturing sector are now heading home or heading to Germany where the strong Euro means better pay and quality of life.

ONS figures also show a large rise of 17,000, in citizens from EU8 countries – Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia – going home; a worrying figure considering these are all notoriously cheap countries for tourists, but have comparatively high salary to living cost ratios for inhabitants.

The food manufacturing industry has traditionally relied on skilled European migrants to do jobs that British people either aren’t trained to do or aren’t willing to do.  The fact that large numbers of these workers are now returning home does present big challenges for the UK Food Manufacturing industry.  Without sufficient numbers of skilled workers production could slow and orders may not be fulfilled.

Of course this does present an opportunity for those wishing to get into the Food Manufacturing industry who bring transferable skills from other sectors and it is likely that due to skills and labour shortages salaries will rise.  For British people willing to train in areas such as engineering, quality assurance, hygiene management and food technology it should be possible to build a long and lucrative career within the Food and Drink sector.

If you’re looking to get into the Food Manufacturing industry, take a look at the current roles we have available.