Media Release – Radical new skills and workforce strategy required to address ongoing labour shortages

Media release 29 June 2021

Tightening labour supply over recent years is now tipping into crisis with wide agreement that the food industry will not have access to the labour it needs this year or in the foreseeable future.

Potential consequences include restrictions in output, reduced exports, increasing empty shelves and food waste, food inflation and risks to animal welfare.

David Camp, ALP Chief Executive says, “Under the new immigration system there is no general low skilled worker route. Government has said that “we need to shift the focus of our economy away from a reliance on cheap labour from Europe” and that “employers will need to adjust”. To achieve this requires a coherent future workforce and skills strategy and government needs to work collaboratively with industry to achieve immediate and ongoing solutions”.

Actions required are detailed in the Association of Labour Providers’ new policy paper ‘Addressing UK Food Industry Labour Shortages’ and include:

  • Government urgently adopting a radically new, coherent and comprehensive national strategy to enable future access to labour
  • A collaborative approach between government departments and the food industry to address and remedy skills and labour constraints.
  • The food industry working effectively and collaboratively to address the underlying causes for its labour and skills shortages
  • Each individual food business taking responsibility to improve its working environment, terms of engagement and recruitment and retention strategies to effectively attract and retain workers.

ALP open Access to Labour resources

About the Association of Labour Providers

Established in 2004, ALP ( is a not for profit, member funded trade association promoting responsible recruitment and good practice for organisations that supply the workforce to the UK food supply chain.

ALP’s 360 labour provider members supply the T5 visa edible horticulture seasonal workers and approximately 75% of the contingent workers into the food growing and manufacturing supply chain.  Many of these workers progress to form the permanent workforce.  All organisations that supply labour into these sectors are required to be licensed by the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA).