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Scottish salmon industry facing ‘acute’ labour shortages, bosses warn

Industry bosses say there is an acute labour shortage in the Scottish salmon sector. (David Cheskin/PA)
Industry bosses say there is an acute labour shortage in the Scottish salmon sector. (David Cheskin/PA)

Scotland’s salmon industry is facing “acute” labour shortages due to Brexit, business chiefs have warned.

In letters to candidates in the Tory leadership contest, Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, Salmon Scotland has called for a more “enlightened” approach to immigration to assist businesses.

The body says the industry does not have enough staff across key skill areas due to workers returning to their homes in Eastern Europe as a result of Brexit.

Conservative leadership bid
The Scottish Salmon industry has called for an ‘enlightened’ approach to immigration (Jacob King/PA)

Very low unemployment and extremely limited labour availability in areas where our businesses have processing facilities, namely Rosyth near Edinburgh, Argyll, Fort William, Stornoway, Dingwall and three separate sites in Shetland mean processing factories are running 20% light on staff.

A change to key worker definitions, changes to the salary cap level and a broader public signal that the UK is open to people and thus to business have been cited by the body as measures to improve the issue.

They have also asked candidates to take a “pragmatic” approach to trade negotiations with the EU, avoiding a so-called “trade war”, with a “clear focus on the nation’s export businesses who depend on a positive, professional relationship with France and the other countries of the EU”.

Scottish Parliament election campaign
Former Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Tavish Scott who now heads up Salmon Scotland (David Cheskin/PA)

Tavish Scott, chief executive of Salmon Scotland, said: “Our businesses are vital to the economic performance of the UK – not only in economically fragile coastal and rural areas, but across the length and breadth of the country in processing, engineering, science and technology industries.

The former Scottish Liberal Democrat leader invited Mr Sunak and Ms Truss to visit a facility if they were elected “at their earliest convenience”.