Sturgeon ‘astonished’ as Johnson shortages worsen

THE plight of Scottish industry, from food to construction, is becoming more concerning by the week.

As the number of job vacancies in the UK leapt by 193,000 in seven days to reach 1.66 million, six of the areas with highest number of openings were in Scotland, said the Recruitment and Employment Confederation.

Vacancies high on the list range from dispensing opticians to vehicle body repairers, but shortages are reported anecdotally across the board and particularly in areas already battered by the pandemic, like hospitality.

The consequences are becoming painfully apparent.

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James Withers, chief executive of Scotland Food and Drink, cited one example in which East of Scotland Growers had to destroy 2.5 million broccoli and 1.5 million cauliflower because of staff shortages in the supply chain, adding “as things peak towards Christmas, a shortage on the farms, a shortage in the seafood and red meat processing industries, a shortage of drivers, a shortage in retail, in hospitality, in chefs and front of house, all combines to give some very real problems”.

David Thomson, chief executive of Food and Drink Federation Scotland, said many businesses have stopped exporting to the EU because of untraversable Brexit bureaucracy.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said this week that “staff shortages are now putting real pressure on food and drink supplies, and the images of healthy food rotting in the fields are astonishing”.

She added that “the Tories should be hanging their heads in shame for this whole sorry situation”.

Again the figures show the reality of a brutal Brexit. It’s undeniable.

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A warning from former Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee Andrew Sentance that shortages of workers and materials were the most acute in decades was noted by business editor Ian McConnell, who writes in his Called to Account column: “It is difficult at this juncture to conceive of anything that could make the hidebound Johnson administration take the action necessary to mitigate a UK supply chain crisis rooted firmly in the hard Brexit folly and exacerbated by the pandemic.

“As the days pass, the warnings from business leaders come thick and fast, and the detrimental impact on the economy of this home-made shambles and related woe becomes ever plainer.”

The problems are also finely pinpointed by deputy business editor Scott Wright, who writes: “An acute shortage of staff, attributed to an exodus of EU nationals because of Brexit, and the need for people to isolate due to the pandemic, has crippled operating capacity just at a time when businesses need to be firing on all cylinders.

“And the price of goods is shooting up because of deep problems in the supply chain, a ramification of Brexit as well as the pandemic.”

Business correspondent Kristy Dorsey shines a light on the position in one sector in her Employment Focus this week, with companies looking to hire finding a broad shortage of senior technology team leaders.

Elsewhere, “as the co-operation deal between the SNP Government and the Scottish Greens was confirmed at Holyrood on Tuesday amid fanfare, leaders of one of the country’s most important industries struggled to make themselves heard”, writes business correspondent Mark Williamson.

The Herald Scotland

The Herald Scotland

The Herald is a Scottish broadsheet newspaper founded in 1783. The Herald is the longest running national newspaper in the world and is the eighth oldest daily paper in the world. The title was simplified from The Glasgow Herald in 1992