Filleters on skills shortage list Published: 11 September, 2008
SCOTTISH fish processors are to be allowed to recruit filleters from outside the European Union to offset a serious shortage of skills north of the border.
The Government, which wants to cut the number of non EU migrants, has just published a provisional list of occupations where it is difficult to recruit qualified staff.
Manual frozen fish filleters are given as a skills shortage occupation in a list for Scotland, partly because young people are not attracted to fish processing in the numbers that they used to be. The Government says the decision is justified by the fact they have to work at minus 20 centigrade at times – but migrants will have to speak some English.
However, it is difficult to see exactly what non EU countries are likely to produce filleters. In the last few years processing companies in both Scotland and England have used staff from Eastern European countries like Poland and Latvia – but they are EU members.
It is not clear yet whether the dispensation will apply to areas in England like the Humber, which has the biggest concentration of processing factories. Steve Norton, chief executive of the Grimsby Fish Merchants Association, said there had been a shortage of filleters in recent years, partly due to lack of training and local people ’emigrating’ to take up higher paid jobs in major fishing countries like Iceland . But the larger UK seafood companies were now importing fish already processed which reduced the need for trained filleters.
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