UNEMPLOYED young people are “shy” about taking on lower paid and “back-breaking” jobs, leaving the market open to migrant workers.
Last week the Government’s work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith called on British businesses to recruit more young Britons rather than relying on labour from abroad.
But a spokesman for local farmers said that wasn’t so easy to achieve when many young people in South Holland, which is a predominantly agricultural area, do not want to work outside in all weathers, harvesting vegetables for low pay.
Simon Fisher, senior policy adviser for the National Farmers’ Union East Midlands region, said: “It is estimated that there are as many as 30,000 migrant workers in Lincolnshire. If we could find that many local people willing to work hard and do these jobs, we would have no problem with employing them.
“But many of the young unemployed people are quite shy about doing the back-breaking stuff in the fields.”
Mr Fisher said Mr Duncan Smith was right to flag up that British firms ought to employ British workers, but said many of the jobs traditionally taken by migrant workers are at the “bottom end” of the market and fill a niche in society which many unemployed people would not consider.
He said: “There’s plenty of scope for people in the local area to talk to labour providers and farmers about the work available, but whether they want to do that is up to them.
“There is nothing to stop them doing that but there is not a God given right that they have to be the first choice. They will be in competition on a level playing field with everyone else who applies.”
Mr Duncan Smith made the comments during a speech in Spain, when he said Government policy has prepared young people for work, now businesses need to give them a chance if they are not to be “lost to dependency and hopelessness.”
He said more than half of the new jobs created over the past year have been taken by foreigners.