Attracting, developing and retaining talent has emerged as one of the biggest risk areas for businesses, according to a new report.

Bord Bia has today (Wednesday, June 9) launched its 2021 Readiness Radar – a risk diagnostic tool, designed to analyse the key challenges and opportunities facing the Irish food, drink and horticulture sector.

The report analyses the high-level risks facing the industry in key areas, such as: Covid-19; the trading environment with the UK; market diversification; talent management; and sustainability.

The results are based on a survey of 111 Irish businesses from across food, drink and horticulture, representing an estimated 60% of the all Irish food and drink exports.

Attracting, developing and retaining talent

Attracting, developing and retaining talent emerges as a ‘top five’ risk area of the 13 that Bord Bia evaluated in this study.

Almost three-quarters of businesses cite talent as a risk to future growth. 38% of businesses cite this as a very significant or critical risk area for their business. 4% feel it is not a risk at all.

Of businesses who feel this is a risk for them, just 1% said they are very well prepared. 63% said they are somewhat well prepared.

Bord Bia said that the reason many businesses feel attracting talent is a risk area is in part “due to the reputation of the sector; an area in which they feel further support is needed, but also due to the specialised skills requirements of the industry”.

“While in the critical manufacturing space, general operatives are the specific requirements, there are also demands for operations, sales and marketing,” Bord Bia noted in its report.

“In this regard, the key issues that arise are around attracting people, but also increasing wage demands and a poor perception of opportunities in the sector.”

Recruitment is cited as an issue by 81% of businesses, and the areas in which recruitment is an issue include: general operatives – skilled (58%); general operatives – unskilled (49%); operations (38%); sales (31%); senior management (28%); and marketing (26%).

Equality in the workplace

Businesses reported that 40% of their management teams are female.

Bord Bia noted that companies with a “diverse and inclusive workforce are better positioned to attract and retain talent, thus reducing risk”.

35% of businesses claimed that equality, diversity and inclusion are a major priority within their business, while 5% said that each are critically important and one of their top three objectives as a business.

3% said equality is of minor importance – “a box to be ticked” – and 10% said it is not a priority.

Planning for a post-Covid world

44% of businesses said they have reasonably developed plans for post-Covid flexible working.

13% have a “mature strategy” in place, 31% have figured out a plan and are progressing it, 26% are in the process of establishing a plan and 28% have not yet started on a plan.

“Covid-19 has contributed to the challenge in creating a healthy work environment and the adoption of safe home working,” Bord Bia added.