UNITED KINGDOM NATIONAL REPORT 2 Fish processing in Scotland

Dr Pamela M Clayton Department of Adult and Continuing Education University of Glasgow

August 2003



Because of the close similarity of the words ‘employers’ and ‘employees’, the more colloquial terms ‘bosses’ and ‘workers’ when referring to respondents are used throughout this report. Where answers were to be ranked in order of agreement, 5 was the highest score and 1 the lowest. Hence scores of 3 and above indicate general agreement, scores of 2 and below general disagreement. Reference to the overall survey means that carried out in the agro-food sector in each of the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom.

On the face of it, the agro-food sector in the United Kingdom is of small importance since it accounts for under 2 per cent of all employees. In the manufacturing sector as a whole, however, 9 per cent are engaged in food manufacturing and the sector generates a great deal of tertiary sector employment, for example, in the wholesale, retail and transport sectors. Above all, it is of importance because it supplies our most important basic need, food, which at the same time carries great health risks. Thus, the sector is interesting in terms of the skills and knowledge, and hence training, needed by both employees and employers. There are three kinds of market driving the agro-food sector: • • mass markets for relatively cheap and widely accessible products, giving rise to high-tech mass production methods; high-volume markets for more expensive, exclusive products where demand may be based on season, fashion and so on, giving rise to batch production for limited runs, using both hightech machinery and manual skills; niche markets, both domestic and export, for high-value, hand-crafted products.

There are, correspondingly, different size firms in the sector. About three-quarters of all firms are small, with between one and nineteen employees. Only 2 per cent have five hundred or more employees. The market is highly competitive, with different brands vying for market share, and at the same time reliant on only four to five large customers in the form of the supermarkets, which supply over threequarters of the food bought by domestic consumers. On the one hand, therefore, there are pressures on profit margins, while on the other hand training is essential in order to meet all the legal requirements to ensure health and safety, not only for employees but for consumers. For the small firms which dominate the sector, therefore, there is a tension between maintaining profit margins (some of which is necessary for further capital investment in order to meet competitive pressures and new legislative requirements concerning health and safety) and investment in human resources, including the training of new recruits and ongoing training of both existing employees and owner-managers. The sub-sector chosen for the Tremplin project was fish and shellfish processing. Scotland was chosen as a geographical region producing high quality fish products such as smoked salmon, kippers, oysters and langoustines in small firms, as well as having large fish processing factories. In 2000, British demersal, pelagic and shellfish vessels landed a total of 307,700 tonnes into Scotland, compared with only 156,900 tonnes into the rest of the United Kingdom. Foreign vessels landed 52,400 tonnes into Scotland compared with 9,200 tonnes into the rest of the United Kingdom. Scotland is, therefore, an important location for the processing of fish and shellfish. It is also important for fish farming, which has seen a great increase in recent times. For example, 129,000 tonnes of farmed salmon were produced in 2000 compared with only 32,400 tonnes in 1990; the production of farmed mussels has risen from 500 to 2,000 tonnes over the same period (Scottish Fisheries Statistics, 2000).


There has been a concerted campaign by bodies such as the Food Standards Agency to persuade people to eat more fish, particularly oily fish ( Seafood in general is a valuable source of proteins, vitamins and minerals. At the same time, however, seafood that is improperly stored, handled or cooked carries dangers in the form of bacteria and viruses, such as the Vibrio bacterium which is the greatest source of reported food-borne illness, the Norwalk virus (found in raw oysters) and hepatitis A, found in raw or partially cooked shellfish. These pose health risks to all but particularly to pregnant women, children and older people and to those with existing health problems. Health and safety issues are, therefore, of major concern. As highly perishable products, fish and shellfish must be dealt with, from catching or farming, through processing, packaging and storing, to delivery, in the most rapid and hygienic way possible. The implications for training are clear: every employee who has any contact with the product must be trained to rigorous standards to ensure that all health risks are eliminated; quality management is key; and managers have to be familiar with all of the legislative requirements concerning food standards. Skill gaps need to be kept to the minimum through training, not only of new employees but of all employees where legislation changes or new products are manufactured. Continual updating of skills is, therefore, a fact of life in the seafood industry. Case study A, the North Atlantic Fisheries College, will describe the role of training in the Shetland seafood industry. Although there has been a slow decline in domestic demand for fish, prices have risen and more is spent on fish than previously (though, paradoxically, demand for fish is lower in Scotland than elsewhere in the United Kingdom). There are jobs for workers in the sector, but seafood processing is an odoriferous task and although the Scottish industry offers good rates of pay, it is difficult to recruit people, with or without the existing skills of handling, filleting and processing fish and shellfish. In other words, the sector appears to have an image problem. The situation is so serious in Shetland that the Shetland Fish Processors’ Association (SFPA) is applying for work permits for immigrant workers. The original intention was to focus on the industry in Shetland. According to the SFPA website: “Small fish processors are vital to the wealth of the islands’ local economy. They provide the innovation and specialism that is crucial for the development of the industry as a whole” (Ruth Henderson, chief executive of SFPA). Great efforts are made to ensure that the fish which goes to the Shetland processing units is of high quality. All the vessels in the Shetland fishing fleet are owned and operated by their crew and their livelihood depends on them meeting the stringent standards laid down by the Scottish Seafood Project code of practice, which is enforced by the two chilled fresh fish markets in Shetland (they are among the most modern in Europe), and constantly monitored since 1985 by an independent quality control company, the Shetland Seafood Quality Control (SSQC) company. This not only monitors the quality and temperature of fish brought to market, but also gives guidelines for the handling of all seafood products in Shetland and carried out random spot checks of fishing boats, fish farms, fish processors and fish transportation companies. Not only is Shetland important for the catching and export of wild fish, it has also been involved in salmon farming for the last fifteen years and great pride is taken in its quality. The SSQC traces all salmon products from hatchery to the final customer and carries out random testing. Mussels, halibut and other fish and shellfish are also cultivated for the table. Training and development is carried out by the Fisheries College. As far as the Tremplin survey is concerned, despite the great majority of firms contacted by telephone (that is, all nineteen firms in the Shetland Fish Processors’ Association) agreeing to take part, in the event few actually returned questionnaires. So the survey was extended to all twenty-four firms who are members of fish and shellfish processing associations affiliated to the Sea Fish Industry Authority in Scotland. This generated a few returns but not nearly enough. The reasons for this require exploration, but it is probable that the length of the questionnaire, the great quantity of surveys already carried out, the generally low educational level of the workforce and the pressure of work, especially in very small firms, deterred firms and/or their workers from taking part. Training is essential at all levels from managers to cleaners, and concerns not only the hygienic


handling and correct chilling and storage of fish and shellfish, but also testing for contaminants, allowable additives and preservatives, quality control, traceability, packaging, classifying, labelling, transportation; the maintenance and cleaning of equipment used in their processing, the cleaning of premises, the discharge of effluent, and factory design and layout. In addition, key skills such as teamwork and problem-solving may require training. SMEs have particular difficulty keeping abreast of food safety and related legislation, and a safety risk assessment tool used by the food industry to control the safety and quality of foods will become mandatory for all food premises from 2004.

Given the disappointingly small number of returns, it is not possible to make generalisations, and the following analysis applies only to the firms who did participate. It can be stated, however, that in the United Kingdom agro-food sector in general, almost half (45 per cent) of employees hold operative and elementary jobs, with a further 15 per cent in skilled trades, 11 per cent in managerial positions and 12 per cent in professional and associate professional/technical jobs. Overall, 19 per cent of employees in the sector have no qualifications, particularly at the trade, operative and elementary levels. Almost all (98 per cent) of managers, however, have some level of qualification (Dench et al. 2000, p. 10). There is no reason to suggest that the Scottish fish processing industry as a whole varies greatly from this. Nine firms were represented, two very large (with five and thirteen thousand employees respectively, the latter a multi-national corporation) and the rest SMEs, ranging from forty to 120 employees. All were in rural areas. In the whole agro-food survey, however, just over half had a rural location (see European Survey, Annex D, Table D4). Nine people designated ‘bosses’, representing seven firms, participated in the survey. Four were managers of local branches, two were human resource managers, and three worked in management support roles, including one production line supervisor. In other words, no firm owners or managing directors are represented but rather, people in managerial positions who chose to answer as bosses rather than as employees. In the overall agro-food survey, however, one-third of the bosses responding were owners. On average, the Scottish bosses had spent 6.2 years in their present job (range, four to ten years), 9.3 years in their present firm (range, five to twenty-one years) and 10.1 years in the industry (range, five to twenty-one years). This last average is significantly lower than the average for the European sample as a whole The average number of people managed in Scotland was thirty-one (range, one to seventy-two), similar to the whole agro-food sample (see European Survey, Annex D, Table D1). Of the twenty-five designated ‘workers’, from eight firms, 40 per cent were male, 60 per cent female (similar to the whole agro-food sample). The biggest number, however, 44 per cent (eleven persons), were aged between thirty-five and forty-four, compared with the agro-food sample, which has a lower age profile. Of the rest, four were under twenty-five, seven were between twenty-five and thirty-four, two between forty-five and fifty-four and only one was fifty-five or more. No persons beyond retirement age1 were represented. (See also European Survey, Annex D, Table D2.) No professionals and only two unskilled manual workers took part. Of the rest, six were clerical/administrative workers, eight were on the production line, five were skilled craft workers, three were in managerial positions and one a Scottish Vocational Qualifications (SVQ) trainer. The proportion of clerical/administrative workers in the sample, compared with the lower number in the European survey, is likely to reflect the lower level of education and therefore resistance to surveys of the general workforce in the fish-processing industry. On average, the workers had been in their current position for 5.2 years (with a range of one to


In the United Kingdom, retirement age is currently 60 for women and 65 for men, though this disparity is due to disappear.


eleven), in their current firm for 6.5 years (with a range of one to eleven) and in the industry for 8.6 years (with a range of two to twenty-seven). These figures are generally below the European survey average and given the average age of the sample may reflect a relatively high degree of turnover in an industry which, for reasons stated in the introduction, finds it hard to recruit and retain workers (see European Survey, Annex D, Table D3). The average number of people managed was just under eight. This figure is distorted by four of the workers managing respectively twenty, forty, forty-eight and seventy people. Fourteen of the workers did not have any managerial responsibility.

3. SKILLS SHORTAGES 3.1 Recruitment
The data here consists of responses to questions, put to both bosses and workers, on workers’ reasons for entering the industry; employee attitudes towards a selection of industries and occupations; boss and employee assessments of the quality of the jobs provided by their firms; and methods of recruitment bosses found useful compared with workers’ sources of information. 3.1.1 Reasons for entering industry Bosses were asked to indicate their opinion of the importance, on a scale of 1 to 5, to their workers of a number of factors which may have influenced their decision to enter the industry in the first place. Workers were asked to state which factors had in fact influenced them. The factors suggested in the questionnaire were: good pay, secure employment, chance to work with people, opportunities for training, seemed interesting, work environment, good career prospects, fringe benefits (such as company pension, canteen, crèche, car), well-respected job, hours of work, good appraisal/guidance system, wanted a change, couldn’t get anything else, wanted to live in this town/area and always wanted to do it (table 1). Table 1 Assessment of factors in recruitment to the industry by workers and bosses Recruitment factors Good pay Secure employment Seemed interesting Work environment Chance to work with people Opportunities for training Wanted to live in this town/area Fringe benefits Well-respected job The hours of work Good career prospects Good appraisal/guidance system Wanted a change Couldn't get anything else Always wanted to do it N Workers Score Rank order 3.8 1= 3.8 1= 3.5 3 3.4 4 3.3 5 3.2 6 3.0 7 2.8 8 2.7 9= 2.7 9= 2.6 11= 2.6 11= 2.4 13= 2.4 13= 2.0 15 25 Score 4.2 4.4 2.9 2.7 3.0 3.2 2.9 2.8 2.6 3.0 2.7 2.9 2.9 3.4 2.0 Bosses Rank order 2 1 7= 12= 5= 4 7= 11 14 5= 12= 7= 7= 3 15 8

The bosses put ‘good pay’ (4.2) and ‘secure employment’ (4.4) as the most important factors. Workers gave lower ratings than bosses but were broadly in agreement that ‘good pay’ and ‘job security’ (both 3.8) were the most important factors. The one both bosses and workers thought least important was ‘always wanted to do it’ (2.0).


In the agro-food survey as a whole, the factors rated highest by bosses were ‘secure employment’ (4.1) followed by ‘work environment’ (3.4), while those rated least important were ‘fringe benefits’ (2.3) and ‘wanted a change’ (2.6) (see European Report, Annex A, Table A2). Workers overall, too, ranked ‘secure employment’ top (3.9), above ‘good pay’, ‘seemed interesting’ and ‘work environment’ (3.7) (European Survey, Annex B, Table B6). When comparing the Scottish rankings by each group, however, some divergences as well as similarities appear. Both bosses and workers gave similar or even identical rankings to ‘chance to work with people’ (5), ‘wanted to live in this town/area’ (6 and 7 respectively) and ‘good career prospects’ (a low 11). There were differences in the rankings of 3 for ‘seemed interesting’, which was workers’ third most popular reason for entering the industry; of 4 for ‘well-respected job’ (less favoured by bosses) and ‘the hours of work’ (which bosses rated more highly); of 5 for ‘good appraisal/guidance system’ (of lower importance to workers); of 7 for ‘work environment’ (much more important for workers) and ‘wanted a change’ (denied by most workers); and 10 for ‘couldn’t get anything else’, which was near the bottom of the workers’ ranking but near the top of bosses’. 3.1.2 Employee perceptions of certain industries and occupations Workers were asked to give their impressions of a range of industries and occupations, in order to test the perception that some sectors and jobs suffer from a poor image which hinders recruitment (tables 2 and 3). First they were asked to give their impressions, from very favourable to very unfavourable, of a range of industries. Table 2 Workers’ perceptions of industries Industry Engineering Agriculture Health care Food processing Information technology Business Banking Hotels and catering Tourism Insurance Construction/building Agro-tourism N Average score out of 5 3.9 3.8 3.8 3.8 3.8 3.7 3.5 3.4 3.4 3.3 3.2 3.2 25 Ranking 1 2= 2= 2= 2= 6 7 8 8 10 11 11

The top ranked choice of industry, with an average of 3.9 out of 5, was engineering, followed by agriculture, health care, food processing and information technology (equal second with an average of 3.8). In view of the perception that both engineering and food processing suffer from a poor image, this is unexpected. The popularity of engineering may be accounted for by Scotland’s impressive past record in this industry; but the high ranking given to food processing needs to be seen in the context of table 3, where jobs are ranked. Industries were perhaps ranked in terms of perceived usefulness rather than of generating desirable employment. The overall results for the agro-food sector were largely quite different, with food processing, tourism and IT equal first with 3.7, followed by engineering, business and hotels and catering with 3.5. In both cases, however, food-processing, their own industry, was well regarded (see European Survey, Annex B, Table B1).


Next, they were asked to rank occupations in terms of whether they were very good jobs, very bad jobs or somewhere in the middle of that range (table 3). Table 3 Workers’ perceptions of occupations Occupations Doctor Lawyer Manager Computer programmer Teacher Electrical engineer Nurse Electrician Police officer Office worker Bank clerk Butcher Baker Farmer Fisheries worker Factory worker Dairy worker Hotel worker N Score out of 5 4.6 4.3 4.2 4.2 4.1 4.1 4.1 4.0 4.0 3.6 3.5 3.5 3.4 3.4 3.3 3.3 3.2 3.0 25 Ranking 1 2 3= 3= 5= 5= 5= 8= 8= 10 11= 11= 13= 13= 15= 15= 17 18

Despite engineering coming top in the industry ranking, electrical engineers and electricians rank fifth and eighth as occupations. In another popular industry, health care, doctors rank above nurses, although public sympathy is probably greater for nurses than for doctors; and the occupations associated with food-processing, butcher, baker, farmer, fisheries worker, factory worker and dairy worker are at the bottom of the list, except for hotel worker. It seems probable that perceived levels of pay inform these rankings. Overall, too, the occupation of doctor was ranked first (4.2), followed by manager and computer programmer (3.9), lawyer (3.8) and teacher and electrical engineer (3.7). Bottom of the list came fisheries worker (2.9), below factory worker, farmer and dairy worker (3.2) (European Survey, Annex B, Table B2). 3.1.3 Ratings of own firms and jobs Bosses were asked to rate their firms in terms of whether they provided ‘very good jobs’, ‘quite good jobs’, ‘jobs that are neither good nor bad’, ‘quite poor jobs’ or ‘bad jobs’ and workers were asked to assess their own jobs in similar terms. Seven out of the nine bosses stated that their firms provided ‘quite good jobs’, plus one claiming ‘very good jobs’ and one stating that the jobs were neither good nor bad. Workers were rather more enthusiastic, with eleven stating they had very good jobs, twelve quite good jobs and only one neither good nor bad. The bosses in the overall agro-food survey were slightly more likely to see the jobs provided by their firm as ‘neither good nor bad’ (20.5 per cent) but the majority, as in the Scottish survey, were fairly positive about their firms, with 22.7 per cent feeling that it provided ‘very good jobs’ and 54.7 per cent claiming that they provided ‘quite good jobs’ (see European Survey, Annex A, Table A4). Agrofood workers in general were much more likely than the Scottish workers to see their jobs as ‘quite good’ rather than ‘very good’, but similarly there was very little dissatisfaction (European Survey, Annex B, Table B8). Bosses and workers were then asked to assess their firms in terms of pay, security of employment, opportunities to work with people, opportunities for training, interesting work, work environment,


career prospects, fringe benefits, respected job, hours of work and good appraisal/guidance system (that is, most of the factors referred to under reasons for workers to enter the industry) (table 4). Table 4 Bosses’ and workers’ assessment of aspects of the job Bosses Aspects of job Opportunities to work with people Security Opportunities for training Pay Appraisal/guidance system Work environment Interesting work Career prospects The hours of work Respected job Fringe benefits N Score 4.2 4.1 3.9 3.6 3.6 3.4 3.2 3.2 3.1 3.0 2.9 9 Rank 1 2 3 4= 4= 6 7= 7= 9 10 11 Workers Score Rank 4.2 1= 4.2 1= 4.1 3 3.7 7 3.3 9 3.8 5= 3.9 4 3.2 10 3.4 8 3.8 5= 2.8 11 25

In terms of ranking, both groups said the best aspects of the job were ‘opportunities to work with people’, ‘security’ and ‘opportunities for training’, and both put ‘career prospects’, ‘the hours of work’ and ‘fringe benefits’ to the bottom. Pay was less important according to workers than to bosses. In the agro-food survey as a whole, bosses thought security of employment and opportunities to work with people were the best aspects of jobs in their firms, and fringe benefits and career prospects the worst. The main difference is that the Scottish bosses were less likely to see the work as ‘interesting’ and more likely to cite ‘opportunities for training’ as a positive factor (see European Survey, Annex A, Table A5). Agro-food workers in general rated most highly ‘opportunities to work with people’ (3.9), interesting work and work environment (3.8) and job security (3.7), with fringe benefits and career prospects at the bottom, which is broadly similar to the Scottish results (European Survey, Annex B, Table B9). The notable difference is the Scottish emphasis on training opportunities, no doubt because training was much more a feature of the Scottish firms than in the overall European sample. There are some notable disparities between Scottish bosses’ and workers’ scores. Workers were more likely than bosses to see their jobs as interesting and respected and carried out in a good work environment. They saw their hours of work and opportunities for training in a slightly better light than did bosses, but were less satisfied with the appraisal/guidance system. Despite, then, the general low opinion of jobs in their industry, the majority of workers were quite satisfied with their own firms and rated them more highly than did the bosses. This has implications for recruitment, as the next section will show.

3.2 Methods of recruitment
Bosses were asked what were the most effective recruitment methods for their firm, while workers were asked who or what helped them to find out about jobs in this type of work. The questions are rather different, as workers were answering on the basis of their entry to the industry rather than to the firm, but the contrast in the answers is nevertheless striking. The scores relate to the percentages of respondents who chose each category as one of their recruitment methods or sources of information (table 5).


Table 5 Bosses’ recruitment methods and workers’ sources of information Recruitment method/source of information Advertisements in the general press The unemployment service Word of mouth Advice from friends Advice from current or past employees Private employment agencies Advice from family Professional/industry publications The Internet Advice from teachers Talks in schools Stands at trade/career fairs N Bosses 87.5 87.5 87.5 50.0 37.5 12.5 12.5 .0 .0 .0 .0 .0 8 Workers 20.8 25.0 54.2 25.0 45.8 4.2 29.2 4.2 12.5 12.5 4.2 .0 24

Professional/industry publications, private employment agencies, talks in schools and stands at trade/career fairs were used by few or no bosses or workers. The Internet and advice from teachers were mentioned by a small number of workers but not by bosses. One boss added that he used advertisements in local shops to attract recruits. There are, however, notable differences between the two groups. Considering the responses by workers, bosses appear greatly to over-value the usefulness of advertisements in the general press and the unemployment service; to place more credence in word of mouth (although this was the greatest single source of information noted by workers); and to undervalue advice from current or past employees and from the family. Given that the second biggest category for workers was advice from other employees, it appears that a firm offering satisfactory conditions should have fewer recruiting problems overall than one with dissatisfied employees. The overall agro-food survey shows some differences from the Scottish one. Bosses in the European agro-food sector gave top rating to ‘word of mouth’ (61.7 per cent of bosses responding), closely followed by ‘advertisements in the general press’ (59.4 per cent), ‘advice from friends’ (55.6 per cent) and ‘advice from current employees’ (49.6 per cent) as the most common methods of recruitment (see European Survey, Annex A, Table A3). Scottish bosses, therefore, relied far more on formal methods of recruitment, including the state employment service, although still recognising the importance of informal channels; whereas workers in Scotland, in prioritising informal methods, were closer to bosses in Europe as a whole than to their own. Agro-food workers in general were more likely to have got their information through advertisements in the general press and advice from friends, less by word of mouth and about the same from someone they knew in the job and their families (European Survey, Annex B, Table B7).

3.3 Problem areas in recruitment
All the firms in Scotland stated that they had problems with recruitment, whereas only 67.6 per cent of bosses in the overall agro-food survey reported such difficulties (see European Survey Annex A, Table A6). Nearly all the Scottish bosses found it difficult to recruit unskilled manual staff, threequarters production line staff and half professional staff. Two mentioned problems with recruiting managerial and skilled staff. None, however, reported problems with IT specialists and other technical staff, secretarial/clerical, sales or reception/customer service. In the overall survey of agro-food bosses with recruitment difficulties, the greatest problem was to recruit skilled craft workers (58.9 per cent), followed by sales staff (35.6 per cent), and production line and professional staff (33.3 per cent each). Only a quarter (24.4 per cent) was short of unskilled manual workers (see European Survey, Annex A, Table A7). Although there are some similarities between the European set and the Scottish sub-set, there appears to be a greater shortage of unskilled manual staff in Scotland than elsewhere, though it is unclear whether this reflects the local pool of


labour or the types of jobs available in the firms. When asked about the post for which they had the greatest difficulty recruiting staff, table 6 shows the reasons, in order of frequency, suggested for the difficulty of filling this post. Table 6 Reasons for recruitment difficulties given by bosses Reasons Pay’s considered too low The work is boring Hours of work (too long/antisocial) Poor career prospects Too few fringe benefits Young people aren’t interested in working hard Poor/difficult working conditions Job has a poor image Firm located in a difficult place to reach Not much job security Not enough training opportunities Not enough guidance/ appraisal in job People don't want to/can’t afford to live here Employment agencies don't recommend it Schools don't teach young people the right skills Not enough contact with people Applicants don’t have the right qualifications N Number of responses 6 5 4 3 3 3 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 1 1 .0 .0 9 Rank 1 2 3 4= 4= 4= 7= 7= 7= 10= 10= 10= 10= 10= 10= 0 0

In addition, one boss wrote in that there were very few unemployed people in the area. The main reasons given concerned perceptions of pay and conditions: low pay and boring work, which was carried out at unsocial times. Three bosses mentioned other aspects, such as poor career prospects and too few fringe benefits. Three also stated that ‘young people aren’t interested in working hard’. Two felt that the job had a poor image and two mentioned that the firm was located in a place which was difficult to reach (these were both in remote parts of Shetland). None, however, said that applicants did not have the right qualifications. Overall, the problem seemed to be one of image, given that pay in the sector is well above the minimum wage, and this tends to confirm the information given by the SFPA, that recruitment is a problem. The overall survey of the agro-food sector is similar to the Scottish sub-set in placing ‘pay’s considered too low’ (59.8 per cent) as the main reason for difficulties in filling their hardest-to-fill posts; but they placed ‘young people aren’t interested in working hard’ (47.8 per cent) rather higher and, whereas in Scotland ‘applicants don’t have the right qualifications’ was not an issue, 42.4 per cent of agro-food bosses overall rated this a problem (European Survey, Annex A, Table A8). The reason for this difference is unclear. It may arise from the kind of posts that were hardest to fill (the unskilled manual staff in short supply in Scotland do not need qualifications), or from the general attitude to and availability of vocational qualifications (Scotland, like the United Kingdom in general, does not have a strong tradition of vocational education and although ‘paper qualifications’ are increasing in importance, they are sometimes considered neither necessary nor sufficient for entry to a job). Bosses were asked, when recruitment for hard-to-fill posts did take place, what kind of person they were likely to recruit (table 7).


Table 7 Bosses’ views of likely recruits to hard-to-fill posts Categories of recruit Males Females People between 25 and 45 People under 25 People over 45 Unemployed people People transferring from other firms in the same industry People coming from other industries Recent school leavers People returning to work after a career break People transferring from other posts within your firm Recent graduates People who need training People who are already suitably trained N Responses 8 6 7 5 2 7 5 2 1 1 1 .0 7 5 9 Rank 1 2 1 2 3 1 2 3 4= 4= 4= 0 1 2

Unemployed males under forty-five were the most likely recruits, but females were also likely to join the firms and also people, who were already suitably trained, transferring from other firms in the same industry. Many likely recruits, however, needed training. There are some interesting differences between the Scottish subset and the general agro-food survey. Whereas a significant number of recruits in Scotland were aged under 25, in Europe as a whole the great majority (76.9 per cent) were predicted to be aged between 25 and 45. The sources of recruits were similar, however, with the most common sources people transferring from other firms in the same industry (45.1 per cent) and unemployed people (39.6 per cent), although the order is reversed. Similarly, about half the recruits in the European survey needed training (European Survey, Annex A, Table A9).

3.4 Bosses’ views on government action to help overcome skills shortages
Bosses with recruitment problems were then asked to comment on the helpfulness, on a scale from one to five, of suggestions concerning what they thought government could or should do to help overcome these skills shortages. Only seven answered this question. Table 8 Bosses’ suggestions for overcoming skills shortages Suggestions Reduce the social costs employers have to bear Reduce the benefits to unemployed people Improve the performance of employment agencies and job centres Require all unemployed people to take any available job Give employers more tax breaks Improve the opportunities for young people to experience the world of work before they look for their first job Invest more in vocational education Improve careers guidance in schools Require all employers to train their workforce Provide more crèches so that women with children find it easier to work Shorten the working week Allow more immigrants into the country Discourage early retirement among older people Reform the school curriculum N Score 3.9 3.6 3.6 3.6 3.5 3.5 3.4 3.4 3.3 3.0 2.9 2.7 2.6 2.6 Rank 1 2= 2= 2= 5= 5= 7= 7= 9 10 11 12 13= 13=


Reducing tax and national insurance for employers and forcing unemployed people into work are the clearly preferred options. Also scoring fairly highly are the ideas of work experience for young people, investing in vocational education and improving careers guidance. The requirement that all employers should train their workforce might not have been such a popular option had owners of firms, rather than managers who are themselves employees, taken part. Further down the rankings were family-friendly policies such as providing more crèches and shortening the working week. Allowing more immigration was not a very popular choice, although work visas for immigrants have been applied for in Shetland; and, worryingly, in view of forthcoming legislation, the idea of discouraging early retirement did not seize the imagination. It is particularly interesting, however, that reforming the school curriculum comes at the bottom of the list, for employers’ federations are currently complaining about lack of basic skills in the workforce. In the overall agro-food survey, bosses were more likely to suggest improving education and guidance than focusing on the narrow interests of the firm. Thus, the most popular options were ‘improve careers guidance in schools’ (4.0), followed by ‘to improve the opportunities for young people to experience the world of work before they look for their first job’, ‘invest more in vocational education’ and ‘reduce the social costs employers have to bear’ (each 3.9) (see European Survey, Annex A, Table A10). The suggestion that unemployed people should be required to take any available job scored only 2.5, compared with the higher score by the Scottish bosses (which no doubt reflects the low unemployment rate in the United Kingdom). Allowing in more immigrants, however, was almost equally unpopular (2.2).

4. SKILLS GAPS 4.1 Identification of skill gaps and the relevance of qualifications
4.1.1 Skills Bosses were asked how important, on a scale of one to five, various skills were for workers in their firm in general. Workers were asked the same question, as applied to their particular job, and were also asked to rate their own skills. The results have been combined in table 9. Table 9 Bosses and workers’ opinions of the importance of skills needed in their firm/job Skills Bosses’ opinion Score 4.8 4.7 4.7 4.0 3.9 3.9 3.7 3.6 3.6 3.1 3.0 2.8 2.8 2.7 2.4 2.4 Rank 1 2= 2= 4 5= 5= 7 8= 8= 10 11 12= 12= 14 15= 15= Workers’ opinion Score 4.7 4.6 4.7 4.7 4.5 3.3 3.8 3.6 4.3 3.4 3.6 3.7 3.4 2.8 3.8 3.5 Rank 1= 4 1= 1= 5 15 7= 10= 6 13= 10= 9 13= 16 7= 12 Workers’ selfassessment Score 4.6 4.6 4.4 4.2 4.2 3.8 3.8 3.8 4.2 3.8 4.0 3.9 4.0 3.1 4.0 3.5 Rank 1 1 3 4= 4= 11= 11= 11= 4= 11= 7= 10 7= 16 7= 15

Having a flexible attitude Working in a team Being accurate Being well organised/systematic Being logical Having physical fitness Managing people Having nimble fingers Having specific knowledge Being imaginative Being caring Being good with numbers Dealing with customers/public Being mechanically minded Writing correct grammar Using a computer


Speaking foreign languages N


17 9


17 24


17 24

The figures in bold refer to attributes where there is a significant statistical difference between workers’ opinion of the skills needed for their jobs and their self-assessment. The workers overall felt that they were fitter and more caring and had nimbler fingers than required by the job. Since the importance attached to speaking foreign languages is so low, the statistical significance there is of no interest. The survey of agro-food workers generally shows very similar results: the highest values are given to being organised (4.6); accuracy (4.4); teamwork, flexible attitude and specific knowledge (4.3); and being logical (4.2). Speaking foreign languages also came last (2.5). Overall, though, being caring and dealing with customers scored more highly (4.0) than in the Scottish sub-set (European Survey, Annex B, Table B3). There are some differences between the Scottish responses and those in the agro-food survey as a whole. Accuracy, team-working, flexibility and organisation were given high scores by bosses in the agro-food sector throughout the European survey, but specific knowledge and customer care ranked lower in the Scottish survey (see European Report, Annex A, table A1). It should be borne in mind that the bosses’ and workers’ views are not strictly comparable, as bosses were asked about their workers’ skills in general whereas workers were assessing the skills needed in their particular jobs. Nevertheless, the rankings of bosses and workers concerning skills needed are broadly similar at the top and the bottom of the rankings. All placed a flexible attitude at the top and team-working, accuracy, organisation and logic were valued by both sets. Since workers on average felt their skills in these areas (except for team-working) were not quite as good as needed, concentrating in-service training here would appear to be an acceptable option for both parties. Similarly, speaking foreign languages and using a computer were at or near the bottom for both. There are two notable exceptions: bosses valued physical fitness far above workers (but the latter thought they were fitter than they actually needed to be for the job); and conversely, workers placed more importance on writing correct grammar (but again thought they were better than their job demanded). Both rankings and scores diverge in these areas. In terms of scores, workers appeared to place a higher value on their jobs than did bosses in several areas: being well-organised (workers 4.7, bosses 4.0), having specific knowledge (workers 4.3, bosses 3.6), being logical (workers 4.5, bosses 3.9), being good with numbers (workers 3.7, bosses 2.8) and using a computer (workers 3.5, bosses 2.4). White-collar workers were highly likely to emphasise numeracy and computer use, given the nature of modern office work; looking at the blue-collar workers who gave scores of 4 or 5, however, all fifteen thought their jobs demanded being organised, fourteen thought they needed specific knowledge and logical thinking to do their jobs and ten thought they needed to be good with numbers. Workers were modest about their skills in the highest-ranked areas, but felt that their abilities were above the level needed for their jobs in the matters of being imaginative, caring, mechanically-minded and dealing with the public. Similarly, agro-food workers in general felt they could be more flexible, accurate and good at team working (4.2), more organised (4.1) and more caring (4.1), but felt they were good at dealing with customers (4.0) (European Survey, Annex B, Table B4). 4.1.2 Qualifications Of the twenty-five workers, nine (about one third) of the workers had completed lower secondary school, twelve (almost a half) upper secondary school, three had attended further education and one had a degree. Six (about a quarter, and including four of the fifteen manual workers) had vocational qualifications and were working towards others; a further six (including four of the manual workers) had some but were not working towards any others, and just one without qualifications, a manual worker, was currently working towards some.


Twelve (almost half), however, had no vocational qualifications and were not working towards any. This last group included six of the manual workers. The educational profile for the whole agro-food survey is similar, but fewer had or were working towards vocational qualifications than in the Scottish survey (see European Survey, Annex D, Table D2.) Of those who had or were working towards vocational qualifications, the average number of awards was 1.3 (compared with only 0.6 in the whole agro-food sample, see European Survey, Annex B, Table B12, see also Table B13), all of which were considered relevant to their present jobs. This figure, however, does not fully reflect the picture. Of those with or working towards vocational qualifications, the average number was 2.3 and the range was one to five. Furthermore, taking into account the level of qualifications, just one had only level two. Eight were (or would be) qualified to level three, two to Higher National Diploma/Certificate level and two to first degree level. The qualifications held by the group as a whole included typing and shorthand, computer operation, accounting and business studies; hygiene, health and safety, food and drink manufacture and first aid; team leadership and quality monitoring The group as a whole, then, is polarised between non- or low-qualified workers and those at level three or above. Those with relevant qualifications were asked for their reasons for studying (table 10). Table 10 Workers’ reasons for having or taking job-relevant qualifications Reasons To get my first job in this type of work To widen my career opportunities/choices My boss advised me to Because I thought it sounded interesting To get a better job in this type of work My family/friends advised me to Other people (e.g. teachers) advised me to Unemployment office advised me to Private employment agency advised me to N Score 35.7 35.7 35.7 28.6 28.6 14.3 7.1 .0 .0 14 Ranking 1= 1= 1= 4= 4= 6 7 0 0

Instrumental reasons were the most common, principally to obtain or advance in a job; but four people, two of whom were manual workers, selected ‘because it sounded interesting’. Other reasons given include ‘relevance to job in workplace’ and ‘essential for working here’. The commonest reasons given by all the agro-food workers were broadly similar: ‘because I thought it sounded interesting’ (45.8 per cent), ‘to widen my career opportunities’ (44.9 per cent), ‘to get my first job in this type of work’ (35.6 per cent), ‘to get a better job in this type of work’ (34.7 per cent); but only 15.3 per cent said their boss had advised them to take the qualifications (European Survey, Annex B, Table B14).

4.2 Strategies: training
4.2.1 Trainees and apprentices Of the seven firms represented in the bosses’ survey, only two had any formal trainees or apprentices. Perhaps surprisingly, these were firms of respectively a hundred and 120 employees. The two large firms had no trainees. This contrasts with the overall agro-food survey, where just under half (48.5 per cent) of firms had apprentices/trainees and the average number of these in the firms which had them was seven. These were primarily in skilled crafts, production line and sales (European Survey, Annex A, Tables A11-13, and see Tables A14-17 on other aspects of apprenticeships).


Both were male aged under twenty-five, one a recent school leaver and the other a current employee being transferred to a different section. One was training for a skilled craft, via part-time study, outside work premises, during working hours. The other was being trained both for the production line and unskilled manual work, following a course provided on work premises, during and after working hours. He would be awarded a qualification for things he already knew (Scottish Vocational Qualification level 2, which is work-based). 4.2.2 Continuing vocational training Both bosses and workers were asked about training in the previous twelve months. Training was described as courses on the firm’s premises; courses outside the workplace; conferences, seminars, workshops or similar; on the job training, someone showing someone else how to do something; time at work for personal study; distance learning; rotation of posts at work (for training purposes); and scheduled discussion groups with colleagues to talk about ways of doing the job better. Respondents were also invited to add any other types of training engaged in. Whereas all the firms had provided training, the average percentage of workers estimated to have received it was 78.3, which accords closely with the three-quarters (nineteen) of the workers surveyed said they had received it. Twelve of these were manual, craft and production line workers. By contrast, only just over half the workers in the whole agro-food sample had received training (see European Survey, Annex B, Table B15). Of the Scottish workers, the average number of hours spent on training over the year was 69.2 (with a range of three to three hundred hours), estimated at 3.8 per cent of paid time (compared with the workers in the whole agro-food survey who had received training, who reported having spent 66.4 hours in training, or 1.8 per cent of paid time - see European Survey, Annex B, Table B17). Firms, on the other hand, said that on average 2.1 per cent of paid time was spent on training, and it is probable that the workers, overall, who volunteered for the survey were more involved in training than those who did not take part. 4.2.3 Training plans Bosses were asked if their firm had a training plan and if so how long the plan had been in existence and what percentage of turnover was allocated to training. All seven firms had a training plan and the average length of such plans was 4.8 years (with a range of two to ten years), so the idea of a training plan for most firms was quite a recent innovation. The largest firm, with 13,000 workers, had had a training plan only for four years, but the smallest, with forty employees, had had one for six years. The other large firm, with 5,000 workers, had the longest in existence, at ten years. Only five bosses were in a position to estimate its annual value as a percentage of turnover, and the average was 0.64 per cent. In the overall agro-food survey, on the other hand, only 38.6 per cent of firms had a training plan, though the estimated value of those that existed was 1.09 per cent of turnover and the plans had been in existence for an average of 6.1 years (see European Survey, Annex A, Tables A30, A31, A32). 4.2.4 Certification of existing competences In the United Kingdom this would most commonly take the form of National or Scottish Vocational Qualifications, which range from level 1 (basic) to 5 (higher degree equivalent). Four of the seven firms said that they had such a scheme, comprising the two largest and the two smallest firms. In the overall survey of the agro-food sector, however, only 20.6 per cent certified existing competencies (European Survey, Annex A, Table A33).


4.3 Analysis of training
4.3.1 Types of training Both bosses and bosses were asked about types of job-related training in the past year: bosses what they had provided in percentage terms and workers what they had received (percentages total more than 100 because of workers receiving more than one kind of training (table 11). Table 11 Types of training in the last twelve months reported by bosses and workers Types of training Course on the firm’s premises On-the-job training, someone showing someone else how to do something Course outside the workplace Rotation of posts at work (for training purposes) Conferences, seminars, workshops or similar Scheduled discussion groups with colleagues to talk about ways of doing the job better Distance learning Time at work for personal study Personal study, either at work or elsewhere Total percentage (bosses only) N Bosses 35.6 33.8 18.8 5.0 3.8 2.5 0.4 0.3 N/a 100 8 Rank 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Workers 57.9 52.6 42.1 15.8 .0 10.5 .0 N/a 21.1 19 Rank 1 2 3 5 0 6 0 4

There is agreement in terms of ranking between the two groups, with courses on the firm’s premises and on-the-job training comprising the majority of activity, followed by courses outside the workplace. The differences in amount arise because workers took several types of training within the same year and the greater number taking courses outside the workplace reflects the higher-thanaverage educational and occupational level of the respondents. One question was not the same for both bosses and workers. ‘Time at work for personal study’ came bottom of the rankings and with a very small score for bosses, but 20 per cent of workers, who were asked about personal study ‘either at work or elsewhere’, said they did this, and it is probable that they meant that they did some of their studying at home or in a library. The overall survey shows that fewer agro-food firms trained their workers (only three-fifths, compared with all the Scottish firms) and those that did trained fewer than the Scottish firms (45.4 per cent compared with 78.3 per cent). On the other hand, those who did were most likely to provide inhouse (41.8 per cent) and external courses (16.6 per cent), and only 23.6 per cent on-the-job training (European Survey, Annex A, Tables A18-20, 23). There was, therefore, much more emphasis on training but slightly less formal training in the Scottish firms, and much more on-the-job training than in Europe as a whole. This apparent difference, however, may arise from differing perceptions of what constitutes ‘training’. Furthermore, 35.7 per cent of the workers in the agro-food survey said they had received on-the-job training, although at the same time 48.7 per cent had taken in-house and 32.5 per cent external courses (European Survey, Annex B, Table B16). 4.3.2 Costs of training Both bosses and workers were asked who had born the cost of training (table 12). Table 12 Bosses’ and workers’ reports on funding of training Fees paid by firm Yes, all of them Yes, some of them No, none of them There were no fees (training provided from staffing budget) Bosses 88.9 11.1 .0 .0 Workers 55.6 5.6 5.6 33.3





Eight of the bosses said that the firm paid all the course fees for their workers’ vocational training and one said that it paid for some of the fees. This is similar to the overall agro-food survey (see European Survey, Annex A, Table A21 and Annex B, Table B18). Workers, however, claimed that one-third of their training was funded from the staffing budget. It is likely that bosses misinterpreted the question. Both bosses and workers were asked about payment for the time spent on vocational training (table 13). Table 13 Bosses’ and workers’ reports on funding of time spent training Firm paid for time spent on vocational training Yes, all of it Yes, some of it No, none of it N Bosses 77.8 22.2 .0 9 Workers 88.9 5.6 5.6 18

The disparity here is hard to analyse in any meaningful way but again shows the slightly unrepresentative nature of the employee sample. The overall agro-food bosses’ survey gives an almost identical result (European Survey, Annex A, Table A22, see also Annex B, Table B19). Bosses were asked if their firm supported workers who chose to study by themselves (table 14). Table 14 Bosses’ support for workers choosing to study by themselves Support provided No, not at all Yes, by providing unpaid study leave Yes, by providing paid study time Yes, by paying course fees N (firms) Number of responses 0 2 2 6 6

Of the six firms represented in the responses, all said that they paid course fees for such workers, two provided unpaid and two paid study leave. In the overall agro-food survey, on the other hand, almost half (46.1 per cent) provided no support for private study, although a further 29.7 per cent paid course fees (European Survey, Annex A, Table A34). 4.3.3 Selection of employees for training Bosses were asked the various bases on which workers were selected for training and workers were asked the bases on which they themselves had been selected for training (table 15). Table 15 Bosses’ and workers’ reports on bases of selection for training Bases of selection for training No selection, everyone in particular jobs has to do it No selection, anyone who is interested/eligible can do it People who need specific skills are selected People with potential for promotion are selected People apply to attend, but only some are selected Individual study (i.e. no selection) N Bosses 88.9 55.6 55.6 44.4 22.2 11.1 9 Rank 1 2= 2= 3 4 5 Workers 50.0 22.2 27.8 .0 5.6 5.6 18 Rank 1 3 2 0 4= 4=

Again the disparity reflects the nature of the employee sample, in which six of those answering this


question were white-collar workers or managers. The stringent health and safety requirements in the food-processing area account for the fact that eight of the bosses said that everyone in particular jobs had to receive training; but out of the twelve manual, craft and production line workers who received training, only eight said that they had had no choice. One had chosen to do it, one had applied for additional training, and three had had only training that they applied for. An additional method of selection was by line managers. The overall agro-food survey shows rather more emphasis on the selection of people needing specific skills (62.5 per cent), and fewer (53.8 per cent) gave training to all in particular jobs, without selection (European Survey, Annex A, Table A24). The experience of Scottish workers and the whole agrofood sample is broadly similar; those who had received vocational training because all had to do it constituted 42 per cent, with only 26.7 per cent selected because they needed specific skills and 22 per cent because they chose to (European Survey, Annex B, Table B20). 4.3.4 Evaluation of training carried out in the past year Bosses and workers were again asked matched questions, rating on a scale of 1 to 5 (from least to most useful) the vocational training carried out in the past year on the issues of ‘helping them to do their present jobs better’ and ‘helping them with career progression’ (table 16). Table 16 Bosses’ and workers’ evaluation of usefulness of training carried out in the last twelve months Usefulness of vocational training For helping them to do their present jobs better For helping them with career progression N Bosses 4.6 4.1 9 Workers 4.3 3.4 17

Both groups were very satisfied overall with the effect of the training in helping their job performance, but workers were less likely than bosses to feel that it advanced their careers. The overall agro-food results are similar (see European Survey, Annex B, Table B21). Bosses’ third option was ‘helping the firm to adapt to future demands’, which scored a high 4.2. Workers’ third option was ‘for getting a different type of job’, scoring a rather low 3.2, which is not surprising since training is generally geared to the kind of job currently undertaken and focuses on specific rather than transferable skills. The overall agro-food survey shows that bosses were also very satisfied that the vocational training they had provided had improved workers’ performance (4.4) and helped the firm (4.0) but less likely to say that it had helped workers’ career progression (3.3) (European Survey, Annex A, Table A25). Both groups were asked about training for the specific skills which workers had been asked to assess in the context of their jobs and their own abilities. Bosses were asked which skills were focused on, using a scale of 1 (great emphasis) to 5 (not covered) and workers were asked which skills training they personally thought they needed in order to do their jobs better (table 17).


Table 17 Bosses’ report on focus of skills training and workers’ assessments of training need Skills Bosses’ emphasis Score 3.6 3.2 3.1 2.9 2.9 2.8 2.3 2.2 2.0 2.0 1.9 1.8 1.8 1.7 1.4 1.2 1.0 9 Rank 1 2 3 4= 4= 6 7 8 9= 9= 11 12= 12= 14 15 16 17 Workers’ assessment of training needed % 81.0 61.9 76.2 52.4 66.7 57.1 71.4 66.7 57.1 23.8 33.3 66.7 19.0 76.2 28.6 66.7 19.0 21 Rank 1 9 2= 12 5= 10= 4 5= 10= 15 13 5= 16= 2= 14 5= 16=

Having specific knowledge Working in a team Managing people Having a flexible attitude Being accurate Being well organised/systematic Being logical Using a computer Being good with numbers Being mechanically minded Having physical fitness Dealing with customers/public Having nimble fingers Being imaginative Being caring Writing correct grammar Speaking foreign languages N

Note that when asked which skills were most important in their firm, bosses had prioritised ‘having a flexible attitude’, ‘working in a team’, ‘being accurate’, ‘being well organised’ and ‘being logical’ (see table 9). ‘Having specific knowledge’ was ranked eighth, and yet training was focused on this above all else (as in the European Survey, Annex A, Table A26). This presumably means that this was the site of the most important skill gaps perceived by firms. Workers were asked with which skills they felt training could most help them to do their jobs better. Some gave negative responses, not because they necessarily felt certain skills were unimportant but because they felt they did not need training in them, so some of the disparity between bosses’ focus and workers’ self-assessment of training needs is explained to some extent. Certain categories, however, differ strikingly between the two groups. Skills rated low by bosses but given positive responses by a majority of workers include ‘being imaginative’, ‘writing correct grammar’, ‘being good with numbers’ and ‘using a computer’. The last three refer to basic skills needs (a level of IT competence is becoming a basic skill to add to literacy and numeracy) and the low value put on them by bosses reflects other research evidence that bosses give too little basic skills training (see UK Report 1). Workers in the overall agro-food survey also felt that they needed specific knowledge (80.5 per cent); to be well-organised (64.3 per cent); to be able to use a computer and manage people (each 62.5 per cent); to work in a team (61.8 per cent); and to be accurate and know how to deal with customers (60.7 per cent). Far more, however, thought they needed foreign languages (46 per cent), and writing correct grammar was rated last (see European Survey, Annex B, Table B23). Bosses were then asked to evaluate the success of the training in those skills which they had rated 3, 4 or 5 in terms of focus and workers were also asked to evaluate their skills training (table 18).


Table 18 Bosses’ and workers’ evaluation of success of training (N = the number who had given or received training in this particular skill) Skills in which training was given Dealing with customers/the public Having physical fitness Having specific knowledge Managing people Being well organised/systematic Being good with numbers Being accurate Using a computer Working in a team Being logical Having a flexible attitude Being mechanically minded Being imaginative Being caring Writing correct grammar Having nimble fingers Bosses Mean 4.3 4.0 3.9 3.7 3.5 3.5 3.4 3.4 3.3 3.3 3.2 3.2 3.0 3.0 3.0 2.8 N 3 3 8 7 6 4 7 5 7 4 5 5 1 2 1 4 Workers Mean 4.1 3.8 4.3 3.9 4.4 3.7 4.3 4.3 4.0 3.7 4.3 3.5 3.5 4.1 3.7 3.7 N 7 5 16 9 14 7 11 7 14 14 12 6 10 7 7 6

It is notable that, although bosses expressed a high degree of satisfaction overall (see table 16), this is not reflected in their assessment of training for specific skills. Just as they valued the skills inherent in their jobs more than did bosses, workers also valued the training more highly in all categories except ‘physical fitness’ and ‘dealing with customers/the public’ (both rated the most satisfactory by bosses and the only two skills to score an average of 4 or more - but provided by only three bosses). For skills training provided by five or more of the bosses, those rated the most satisfactory were ‘having specific knowledge’, ‘managing people’, ‘being well-organised/systematic’, ‘using a computer’ and ‘being accurate’. Given that 3 represents ‘satisfactory’, however, bosses were in generally content with the outcomes of training, if not as enthusiastic as some of their workers. In the overall agro-food survey, bosses’ ratings were similar to the Scottish ones (except for physical fitness) in placing customer care (4.2) as the most successful area for skills training. This was followed by specific knowledge (4.1), team-working and accuracy (both 3.8) (European Survey, Annex A, Table A27). The workers’ assessments are similar in ranking but overall they rated aspects of training lower: only ‘having specific knowledge’ (4.2) and ‘being well-organised’ (4.0) were comparable with the Scottish results (see European Survey, Annex B, Table B22).

4.4 Skills acquisition and mobility
An important issue for bosses is that, having been trained, their workers do not take their new or upgraded skills to another firm, possibly in the same area and indeed a competitor. Fear of ‘poaching’ is well-justified. Hence, bosses were asked if, in general, their trainees and apprentices wanted to stay with their firm when they had finished their training. One boss said yes and the other that some did and others did not. Both the current trainees were very likely to be asked to stay on after completing their apprenticeships, which is to be expected given the investment in their training; but whether or not they will, or for how long, remains to be seen. Concerning workers who had recently received continuing vocational training, bosses were asked if this made them any more or less likely than other employees to leave the firm. Of the nine bosses, three said they were slightly more likely to stay with the firm, three that they were much more likely to stay and three that it made no difference. In other words, these bosses did not particularly fear that


training would harm the firm through losing it employees. The overall agro-food survey gives a similar result, with only 10.8 per cent of bosses feeling that trained employees were much more or slightly more likely to leave, 37.3 per cent believing it would make no difference and 51.8 per cent thinking they would be slightly or much more likely to stay with the firm (European Survey, Annex A, Table A28). Asked the reason for their responses, all five bosses who answered this question said that training made workers feel more loyal to the firm, four that they got a pay increase after completing a course three that their career prospects in the firm improved and one that they had more marketable skills (in which, presumably, they took pride but did not wish to sell elsewhere). The results for the European Survey are similar, though fewer said workers got a pay rise after completing a course (see Annex A, Table A29). In a question unrelated to work-provided training, workers were asked if they ever thought of working in a different type of job altogether (not necessarily in a different firm, though). Their answers have been collated with their access to training in the past year (table 19). Table 19 Workers’ feelings about changing job compared with receipt of training in the last twelve months All workers Attitude to job change No, never Sometimes, but not seriously Yes, I’d like to change Yes, I’m determined to change N Workers trained in the last year 1 14 3 1 19 Workers not trained in the last year 1 4 1 0 6

2 18 4 1 25

It is hard to make much of a small sample which is further broken down into categories, but taking ‘never’ and ‘not seriously’ together, twenty workers were content to stay in their jobs, but a quarter of these had not received training in the last year. The five who would like to or were determined to change included four who had received training and one who had not. The effect of training is inconclusive; but in any case, the word ‘job’ is ambiguous, as it can be interpreted as ‘post’ or ‘employment in a particular firm’. Workers who did not say they were determined to move were also asked if they were interested in being promoted at work. These results have also been collated with receipt of training within the last year (table 20). Table 20 Workers’ attitude to promotion, compared with receipt of training in the last twelve months All workers (%) Attitude to promotion Yes, I’d like to move on as soon as possible Yes, at some time in the future It depends on what is on offer No, I’m happy as I am There’s no chance of promotion here N 2 4 10 5 4 25 Workers trained in the last year 2 2 10 2 3 19 Workers not trained in the last year 0 2 0 3 1 6

It should be noted that none of the four who said there was no chance of promotion were thinking of changing jobs and only one of the two who would like to move on as soon as possible was thinking of changing jobs. There is no conclusive evidence here to show an effect of training on future aspirations in terms of either changing job or seeking promotion.


For agro-food workers in general with regard to leaving the job or seeking promotion, see the European Survey, Annex B, Tables B10-11.

4.5 External support for training
Bosses were asked a number of questions in this area concerning compulsory levies, bosses’ associations and informal co-operation (Table 21). Table 21 Bosses’ knowledge of external support for training External support for training Compulsory levy on all employers Employers' association runs courses Informal cooperation N=5 Exists 0 3 3 Planned 0 0 0 No plans 3 1 0 Don’t know 2 1 2

Asked to give their opinions of these options, no bosses favoured a compulsory levy on all bosses and three thought it a bad idea; three thought that it a good idea that bosses’ associations should run courses and three favoured informal co-operation. Two, however, did not know. In the overall agro-food survey, on the other hand, 29.7 per cent of bosses said firms were subject to a compulsory levy and plans for one were reported by a further five per cent. A similar number (30.1 per cent) said that employers’ associations ran courses and 29 per cent reported informal co-operation. Their opinions of these collective arrangements were similar to those in the Scottish sub-set (European Survey, Annex A, Tables A35-36).

4.6 Evaluation and recommendations
Finally, both bosses and workers were asked to show the extent to which they agreed or disagreed with statements concerning continuing vocational training in general, followed by an open-ended question in which they could comment about CVT in their industry or firm in particular.


4.6.1 Evaluation of CVT The scores and rankings for both bosses and workers are in table 22. The higher the score, the higher the general agreement with the statement. Table 22 Bosses’ and workers’ attitudes towards continuous vocational training (CVT) Bosses Attitudes to CVT Training should be provided in paid time Everyone needs training and retraining throughout their lifetime You learn a lot of useful things on CVT courses This country needs a better trained workforce Employers should be made to train their workers I wish we had more CVT in this firm Workers should be prepared to use some of their free time for training The unions should provide more CVT The unions should put pressure on employers to provide CVT It’s difficult to find out what CVT courses are available It should be up to individuals to decide if they want training I’d rather work than go on a course CVT is the job of the government Most CVT is a waste of time People who already have a job don’t need CVT N Score 4.4 4.3 4.3 3.9 3.6 3.5 3.0 2.9 2.9 2.7 2.0 2.0 2.0 1.9 1.6 7 Rank 1 2= 2= 4 5 6 7 8= 8= 10 11= 11= 11= 14 15 Workers Score 4.2 4.0 4.1 4.1 4.0 3.5 3.2 3.3 3.4 2.9 3.2 2.8 2.6 1.8 1.6 24 Rank 1 4= 2= 2= 4= 6 9= 8 7 11 9= 12 13 14 15

Both bosses and workers were in accord that training should be provided in paid time, although there was agreement from both that workers should be prepared to use some of their free time for training. Other areas in which both groups were in strong agreement include the lifelong learning agenda as applied to training, the usefulness of CVT, the wish to have more in the firm and the need for a better trained workforce in general. The agro-food sector in general supported all of these ideas (European Survey, Annex A, Table A37, Annex B, Table B24). There are also many areas where both groups disagree with the statement, including the ideas that training, is mostly a waste of time, is not as enjoyable or worthwhile as working and is unnecessary for people who already have a job. Workers (especially in the whole agro-food sample, see European Survey, Annex B, Table B24) were more in favour than bosses of trade union involvement, either in providing CVT or putting pressure on firms to provide it, and much more in favour of individuals deciding for themselves if they wanted training. Judging by the general enthusiasm for CVT, this might well refer more to wishing to have more choice of training than any antipathy to it. 4.6.2 Additional comments concerning CVT in the firm Only one boss made such a comment: that attaining other skills brought no rewards from the firm; and one employee (a fish gutter): ‘'The United Kingdom needs much more CVT to catch up with the EU and USA in industrial productivity. Catching up in this area in the long term would be profitable for business and improve pay and conditions for workers. Firms could catch up with innovation and be able to charge more for goods and services generating more capital and profit and better share values.’


As noted above, it is difficult to draw useful conclusions from such a small survey; comparisons with the overall European survey, however, do show to what extent the Scottish sample reflects the overall situation in the agro-food sectors surveyed in each country. The discussion following concerns the European agro-food survey in general: where the Scottish survey differs significantly, this will be made clear. The majority of bosses stated that they had recruitment problems but there were significant differences between the Scottish and the general survey. In Scotland the greatest difficulties lay in finding unskilled manual and production line workers, whereas these were much less of a problem elsewhere. From conversations with representatives of the fish-processing industry, it seems likely that, as these occupations entail direct contact with fish, they are seen as undesirable because of the smell, which can be difficult to get rid of. In the European survey as a whole, fish-processing was seen as the least desirable occupation, probably for this reason. Since there is almost full employment in the United Kingdom, workers can more easily choose not to take such unpopular jobs even though, certainly in Shetland, the rates of pay are well above the minimum wage (even though bosses said that perception of low pay was the most important factor in recruitment problems). In Iceland, migrant workers are an important part of the fish-processing production lines, but this solution was favoured by few bosses anywhere, despite industry moves to implement it in Shetland. The main factors attracting workers to the industry, as agreed by both bosses and workers, were secure employment and good pay. An unexpected result was that workers also agreed that the work seemed interesting. Since bosses ranked this lower than workers, it might aid recruitment if they tapped into any latent interest by advertising various aspects of the job as well as pay, conditions and the work environment, especially as workers had positive perceptions of the food processing industry in general. Furthermore, although occupations in food processing were ranked below almost all others suggested in the questionnaire, they were not ranked as ‘bad jobs’ but somewhere in the middle, compared to high-status and well-paid occupations such as doctor and lawyer. Workers were also satisfied with their own jobs, especially because they gave opportunities to work with other people, were secure and the work was interesting. This is an important factor in recruitment potential, as workers in Scotland in particular generally used informal ‘word-of-mouth’ methods of gaining information about firms. There are differences between the Scottish and the general survey on likely recruits to hard-to-fill posts, which reflect the different kinds of skill shortage. In Scotland, it was thought that young people were more likely to fill posts whereas in general, since the European shortages were for posts demanding longer experience and more qualifications, older people were expected to apply. In both cases, however, the likelihood would be that unemployed people needing training and people transferring from other firms, and therefore already trained, would be the most likely recruits. The provision of initial training, therefore, would seem to be necessary for most firms; there was general agreement that a better-trained workforce was needed, and that training and retraining were necessary throughout working life; but the options most favoured by bosses to overcome skill shortages and skills gaps involved no effort or investment on their part. Hence, providing crèches and providing training were little more popular than encouraging immigration. The idea of a compulsory training levy on employers was unwelcome, although this does exist in some countries. On the other hand, outside Scotland, apprenticeships were quite common. Nevertheless, Scottish workers were much more likely than others to cite training opportunities as a positive aspect of their jobs, and it appears that training is much more common in Scotland than in the other countries surveyed, partly because of labour turnover and the need to induct newcomers and partly because of the extremely stringent regulations governing all parts of fish processing, which necessitate on-going training in health, safety and hygiene. In general the workers were polarised between qualified and non-qualified, but in Scotland workers were more likely to have or be studying for vocational qualifications and were more likely to say that their boss had advised them to do so. All the Scottish firms had a training plan compared with just over a third in the overall survey and were more likely to certify existing competences. If the Scottish survey is at all representative, it does


appear than training and on-going learning are taken more seriously in the Scottish fish-processing sector than in agro-food generally. One of the risks of providing training, of course, is that workers might be ‘poached’ by another firm which thereby gains a competitive advantage by obtaining skilled workers without having itself to invest in their training. The bosses in this survey, however, expressed few such fears and none did in the Scottish survey, partly perhaps because training has to be carried out by all (or most) firms and partly because workers themselves appreciate training opportunities. It appears that, as long as firms provide a reasonable level of pay, and security of employment and a good working environment, they have much to gain and nothing to lose from providing training - whether this consists of courses, onthe-job learning or other kinds of provision, and particularly if provided in paid time (which both bosses and workers thought important). There is a notable contrast, however, between the skills that bosses (and indeed workers) thought were most important in their firms and the kind of training provided. Transferable skills, including flexibility, team-working, accuracy, organisation and logic, were generally ranked above specific knowledge, and these were the skills which many workers identified as needing improvement in their cases. Nevertheless, when asked about training needs and provision, both bosses and workers gave top ranking to specific knowledge. There appears to be a mismatch here, although it is fair to point out that many workers did report receiving training in transferable as well as specific skills. It is also likely that the real importance of specific skills training, especially in health, hygiene and safety, leaves too little in the training budget for other skills. In conclusion, training in the Scottish sample is afforded a high degree of importance and is provided for the majority of workers. There are problems in recruitment, which appear largely outside the control of firms, for the more unpopular types of job and there is a question mark over the skills training actually delivered, which focuses on specific rather than on transferable skills.

6. CASE STUDY The North Atlantic Fisheries College
Shetland is unusual in that it is able to manage all aspects of fishing and fish farming, including catching and farming, processing, training and quality control, but the long-term conservation and sustainability of the sector is extremely important for the islands. The need for the conservation of stocks as well as the efficient operation of processing had led to a partnership, perhaps unique, between the Shetland fishermen, the fish processors and the North Atlantic Fisheries College, based in Shetland, which lies at the heart of the North Atlantic fishing grounds and has one of the most modern fishing industries in Europe. The college was built in 1992 and constitutes Shetland’s biggest and most forward-thinking investment in the future of fishing and fish farming. It provides training in all aspects of the fishing and fish processing industry, and offers a wide range of courses, including marine biology, environmental science and food science, business studies and fish handling. It is, therefore, claimed that everyone in the Shetland fish industry, from fishermen, through fish processors on the factory floor, to factory managers are among the best trained in the industry. The college works closely with the Shetland Seafood Quality Control company so that its training encompasses the correct quality control guidelines in the handling and processing of fish. It offers a very wide range of courses, from short one day practical training sessions of particular use to firms, to one year full-time post graduate degrees (MSc) and PhDs, and a large number of shorter courses leading to vocational qualifications relevant to the fishing and fish processing sectors. In addition to providing training, the North Atlantic Fisheries College carries out research and product development, thus offering expertise and innovation to the local fish processing industry and contributing to its development. Its research is often carried out in partnership with local industry sectors. For example, it recently


carried out studies into the sustainability of the pelagic fishery in co-operation with the local pelagic fishing fleet. There is ongoing research into the ways in which fishing and fish farming may become more environmentally friendly, that is, both sustainable and more humane. The techniques of fish farming are another research area of particular importance, since farmed fish are particularly prone to disease and parasites. When wild fish are contaminated by escaped farm fish, there are potentially catastrophic consequences for the wild fish population and therefore for the livelihood of fishermen. The college recently became the University of the Highlands and Islands Millennium Institute's centre for applied fisheries research The college has facilities and staff dedicated to the development of new products and techniques, including restocking. In one instance, lobsters are reared to maturity and then released into the wild to boost local stocks.

Dench, S, Hillage, J, Reilly, P and Kodz, J (2000), Employers Skill Survey: Case Study - Food Manufacturing Sector. Sheffield: Department for Education and Employment Food Standards Agency, Scottish Fisheries Statistics (2000), sfs2.pdf Shetland Fish Processors’ Association,


Master your semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Special offer for students: Only $4.99/month.

Master your semester with Scribd & The New York Times

Cancel anytime.