The processing, fishmongering and retail industries are integral to the supply chain, so it is important that they are considered within Parliament
Fisheries APPG highlights need for joined-up action on seafood careers
Monday, June 24, 2019, 20:50 (GMT + 9)
Parliamentarians and representatives from a range of seafood industries came together to discuss issues affecting recruitment into seafood careers in Westminster on Wednesday 12 June. The event was the second public meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Fisheries, a cross-party body focused on issues affecting the UK fishing and seafood sector. The Careers on Land and at Sea seminar opened discussion on the challenges facing processing, fishmongering and the supply chain, and how to attract and train new recruits in these industries.
The number of people employed within each segment of the fisheries supply chain is significant - seafood processing alone supplies around 18,000 jobs in the UK. However, there are concerns that not enough young people are being recruited to sustain this workforce. The Parliamentary event earlier this month, chaired by MPs Alistair Carmichael and Melanie Onn, brought together representatives from across the seafood sector to highlight where the most pressing challenges lie, and spark debate on potential solutions.
The number of people employed within these industries is significant - the seafood processing industry alone supplies around 18,000 jobs in the UK - but there are concerns that not enough young people are being recruited to sustain this workforce, despite improvements in working conditions. Although labour costs have risen, the demand for seafood is increasing, creating opportunity for the sector to expand and potentially resolve recruitment issues.
Fishmonger Rob Wing, of Wing of St Mawes, stressed the challenge that many seafood businesses are facing: “the seafood industry struggles to recruit and retain employees; this is mostly due to the ‘manual’ nature of processing work.” But attendees agreed that this manual work can be both highly skilled and rewarding.
Drawing on a wealth of industry knowledge, CJ Jackson, Principle and Chief Executive of Billingsgate Seafood School, reflected on the little-known benefits of careers in seafood, and the role of building awareness through establishing lifelong habits. “Seafood consumption is still challenging in the UK, and if we can encourage everyone to eat more, and it becomes much more day to day, a career in seafood may be more appealing,” says Jackson.
Despite the diversity of seafood careers on offer, young people entering the jobs market see the sector as unattractive employment. “The biggest challenge is awareness of the opportunities within the sector,” added Simon Dwyer, Manager of Seafox Management Consultants. He, like many others at the event, emphasised that “it is an exciting and multifaceted industry and needs to be portrayed as such.”
The audience consensus was clear. The industry needs to work together to show that seafood careers are an opportunity worth seizing. With clearer messaging on the array of seafood careers available and cross-industry coordination, recruitment into seafood careers could receive a much-needed boost.
The next APPG on Fisheries meeting will cover seafood marketing and certification, with organisers hoping to attract a similar range of engaged voices from across the sector.