‘There are no jobs’. How many times have you heard it? It’s a phrase repeated on practically every discussion programme on the economy, on every channel, every day.
Yet I’ve spent the past two days talking to UK fruit farmers, and many of them tell me they constantly advertise for seasonal UK labour. The response? Pitiful.
Take S&A Produce. In 2009 they advertised 2,000 seasonal jobs for their strawberry picking season in Herefordshire, but got just 12 applications from British nationals. At the time, 8% of the county’s 16–24 year olds were claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance. Three farmers from Kent regularly advertise early each year, but barely get any responses. ‘And even if we did,’ one told me, ‘many British people who come down don’t last more than a couple of days.’
Recently the MP for Sheppey and Sittingbourne, Gordon Henderson, ran a Westminster Hall Debate to discuss this. Numer