‘29% of agri-food sector employees in Ireland come from outside the country’

Research suggests that 29% of agri-food sector employees in Ireland come from outside the country. That’s well above the figure of 17% for the overall workforce (across all industries in the country).

The research – carried out by Taste4Success Skillnet – has shown that international workers in the agri-food sector have, to date, mainly come from EU accession countries. The single biggest group is from Poland; Polish workers comprise 39% of the total number of employees from overseas (in the agri-food sector).

79% of agri-food sector firms, that employ international workers, reported that investment in diversity and inclusion training had a “positive impact on productivity”.

However, 65% of such companies have no diversity and inclusion training in place.

The report has also stated that investment in language skills training is a key requirement for agri-food sector employees.

‘Dependence on international workers’

According to the report, the research found that “the sector’s dependence on international workers is not matched by training strategies and support systems for employees”.

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Bridie Corrigan Matthews, head of learning and development at Taste4Success Skillnet, said:

“As Ireland’s largest original sector, agri-food is critically important. Increasing cultural diversity presents opportunities and challenges for all companies in the sector.

This is particularly relevant given the sector’s dependence on international workers, a critical element in the performance of which is their integration into a ‘high-performing, multi-cultural team environment’.

“This is along with addressing training gaps. Companies need to foster cultural integration.”

Paul Kelly, director of Food Drink Ireland at Ibec, said: “The research incorporates inputs from a wide range of agri-food processors representing large and small employers, in locations around the country and across the mix of sub-sectors.

“The fulfilling of the recommendations laid out in the report such as the implementation of cultural diversity and training for management and supervisors at enterprise level is crucial.”

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