Defra ends Pick for Britain campaign to recruit UK farm workers

The Pick for Britain initiative aimed to provide farmers with seasonal workers
The Pick for Britain initiative aimed to provide farmers with seasonal workers

The government appears to have ended its Pick for Britain campaign launched last year to recruit British workers on farms.

Defra launched the initiative in April 2020 against the backdrop of the pandemic, with an aim to entice the UK public to work on farms over the busy harvest period.

The scheme wanted to bring workers and farm employers together as the impact of Covid-19 left a diminished agricultural workforce.

The website listed recruiters such as individual fruit and vegetable farms to national recruitment agencies that had job opportunities across the UK.

Last year, farming and rural-based organisations feared a shortage of around 80,000 farm workers due to travel and lockdown restrictions.

However, by mid-June that year, a freedom of information request revealed that the government had spent just £16,500 on campaign.

Fast forward to April 2021, and the Pick for Britain website is no longer hosting advertisements for farm work.

The homepage instead shows a message thanking all those who took part in the campaign.

The message says: “Defra would like to extend its sincere gratitude to all campaign partners who supported this project.

"With your help, the Pick for Britain message generated unprecedented interest in these roles across the country, and helped our farmers and growers bring home the harvest.

“HM government will continue to help UK farmers and growers recruit the seasonal workers they need, including support for workers from the domestic labour market, those with EU Settled Status, and those coming in through the HMG Seasonal Workers Pilot.”

"We are proud to have been part of this creative and collaborative campaign during such challenging times."

Last week, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) announced a collaboration with the NFU to help identify candidates that have the right skills for farm roles.

The department will act as a point of contact between farming businesses and the unemployed.

The NFU said this more targeted approach would minimise the recruitment challenges that arose during last year.