Opinion and comment from Food and Drink leaders.
Lance Harris is a member of the New Futures Network (NFN) – a small specialist team within the Ministry of Justice and is the National Sector Lead for Manufacturing, Agriculture & Horticulture. This role involves supporting Governors, offenders and their external partners to develop work in prison workshops and on their farms and gardens, leading to employment outcomes for companies who offer work to prison leavers and those on temporary release. You can connect with Lance through LinkedIn here.
One business success
- Led the development of high-profile partnerships with Timpson and Halfords. Both of these organisations work with offenders in branded prison academies and workshops that we developed. This has led to real jobs on release for offenders who gained skills and qualifications in our academies. More recently, we have been working closely with the agri-food sector, including trade bodies to identify ways to resolve the labour issues in the food supply chain.
Two challenges for the sector
- Growing labour shortages have led to organisations looking for alternative recruitment streams. Recruiting offenders does present challenges but understanding the social and business benefits of working with the prison service and looking to employ offenders is a growing trend. Reducing the number of victims, reducing crime and helping prison leavers lead more law-abiding lives are significant outcomes for engaging with us.
- Our challenge is identifying and placing offenders into vacancies in a timely manner to meet the need. Each sector has its own challenges and requirements, and we will need to work closely together to resolve these. The food sector is in many ways an ideal candidate for our help as it is facing many serious labour shortage issues that are affecting the supply of products to consumers.
Three forecasts for the sector
- Further exploration into more “hard to reach groups” where previous recruitment has not been considered.
- The food and drink sector will require more diversity of staffing if it is to meet the immense challenges it faces. We will see a return to managed immigrant labour especially around logistics.
- Inevitably, the sector will face increased labour costs because of the shortage of staff. This will inevitably lead to higher prices for consumers. Whilst there will be resistance to this, consumers will have to accept it as a consequence of current conditions.